Skipper Mahela Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 77 to get Sri Lanka within 90 runs of victory in the second Test and a series sweep against South Africa on the fourth day here on Monday.
Set 352 to win, the hosts ended the penultimate day at 262 for five, leaving three sessions and five wickets to achieve the 90 runs required. The Sri Lankan captain shared an unbroken 61-run stand for the sixth wicket with Prasanna Jayawardene, the wicketkeeper-batsman contributing 27 runs.
South Africa missed a chance to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene on two when he edged an Andrew Hall delivery to gully. But Herschelle Gibbs, one of the safest fielders in the team, failed to hold the chance.
It was a major reprieve for Sri Lanka. Jayawardene scored 374 in the first Test last week and shared a world-record 624-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara that laid the foundation for the innings victory. As long as he remains at the crease, Sri Lanka have a chance of winning.
Sri Lanka’s highest run chase in Test cricket so far has been 326 against Zimbabwe at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in 1997. South Africa resumed on Monday at 257 for seven and added 54 before Mark Boucher’s rearguard innings finished at 65.
Despite losing opening partner Upul Tharanga for a duck, veteran Sanath Jayasuriya started the chase aggressively for Sri Lanka with 73 from 74 balls. The 37-year-old left-hander, who recently reversed his decision to retire from Test cricket, took the attack onto the South African bowlers reaching his 30th half-century in style by hoisting veteran paceman Shaun Pollock for a six that landed in the adjoining Air Force Camp.
He was particularly aggressive against Pollock and hit the bowlers first three balls of his third over for 4,4,6 adding a quick 82 for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara. Pollock hit back by breaking the partnership with the total at 94, but Sri Lanka suffered the biggest blow when Jayasuriya was dismissed.
Left-arm spinner Nicky Boje turned one from the rough and the ball brushed the batsmanís glove, giving Hashim Amla a comfortable catch at short leg. That put South Africa back in the hunt after an uncompromising onslaught by the former Sri Lankan captain.
The tourists got a few steps closer to squaring the series when Boje struck twice in the evening session with the wickets of Tillekeratne Dilshan (18) and Chamara Kapugedara (13). But South Africa’s attack was curtailed when fast bowler Makhaya Ntini pulled a hamstring and was restricted to just two overs after lunch. But he is s expected to be fit to resume bowling on the final day.
Earlier yesterday, off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan completed his 56th five-wicket haul when he picked up the last three South African wickets. He finished with seven for 97 in 47 overs and ended with a match with 12 wickets, the 18th time he has taken 10 wickets or more in a Test. He claimed 22 wickets in the two-match series to lift his career tally 657 in Tests.
South Africa won toss
South Africa 1st inns 361 (H M Amla 40, A G Prince 86, A B de Villiers 95, S M Pollock 57*; M Muralitharan 5-128)
Sri Lanka 1st inns 321 (S T Jayasuriya 47, C K Kapugedera 63, H A P W Jayawardene 42, M F Maharoof 56, W P U J C Vaas 64; M Ntini 4-84, D W Steyn 5-82)
South Africa 2nd inns (overnight 257-7)
H H Gibbs c J’suriya b M’tharan 92
A J Hall c P J’wardene b Maharoof 32
J A Rudolph run out (Kapugedera) 15
H M Amla run out (Kapugedera) 8
*A G Prince c & b Muralitharan 17
A B de Villiers c Dilshan b M’tharan 33
†M V Boucher c Dilshan b M’tharan 65
S M Pollock c Tharanga b M’tharan 14
N Boje c P J’wardene b M’tharan 15
D W Steyn lbw b Muralitharan 0
M Ntini not out 5
Extras (b9, lb4, w1, nb1) 15
Total (all out, 107.5 overs) 311
Fall: 1-76, 2-119, 3-131, 4-161, 5-206, 6-207, 7-235, 8-280, 9-282
Bowling: Vaas 19-4-53-0; Malinga 12-1-55-0 (1nb); Maharoof 21-3-53-1 (1w); Muralitharan 46.5-12-97-7; Jayasuriya 9-0-40-0
Sri Lanka 2nd inns
W U Tharanga c Gibbs b Ntini 0
S T Jayasuriya c Amla b Boje 73
K C Sangakkara c Amla b Pollock 39
*D P M D Jayawardene not out 77
T M Dilshan c Gibbs b Boje 18
C K Kapugedera c de Villiers b Boje 13
†H A P W Jayawardene not out 27
Extras (b4, lb5, w3, nb3) 15
Total (5 wkts, 72 overs) 262
To bat: W P U J C Vaas, S L Malinga, M F Maharoof, M Muralitharan
Fall: 1-12, 2-94, 3-121, 4-164, 5-201
Bowling: Ntini 7.2-2-13-1; Steyn 12.4-1-64-0 (1nb, 3w); Boje 23-8-76-3; Pollock 15-2-54-1 (2nb); Hall 14-2-46-0
Series: Sri Lanka leads the 2-Test series 1-0
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and B F Bowden (New Zealand). TV umpire: T H Wijewardene. Match referee: J Srinath (India)
First Test: July 27-31 SSC Colombo, Sri Lanka won by an innings and 153 runs
Source:The NewsMore on:Mahela Jayawardene, South Africa, South Africa in Sri Lanka 2006, Sri Lanka
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