Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
14 Feb 2019
5:44 pm

Evergreen Steyn shows class as Proteas take tentative control

Heinz Schenk

The veteran spearheads Sri Lanka's collapse, but the batsmen still aren't able to capitalise.

Dale Steyn has been named in the Test team of the Decade. Picture: AFP

The evergreen Dale Steyn  showed his immense class again as the Proteas gained control of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Durban after the second day’s play.

Being 35 clearly isn’t much of a hindrance for South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in the five-day format as he bagged fine figures of 4/48, spearheading the visitors’ dismissal for 191.

By the close, the Proteas’ lead of 44 has swelled to 170 as they ended on 126/4, a total that will provide some comfort, but is hardly match-winning.

The home side seemed to justify its risky decision to select five frontline bowlers as Steyn and co reduced Sri Lanka to 90/5 and later 152/8.

He struck early in trapping Oshada Fernando in front, though replays suggested that delivery was missing the stumps.

Frustratingly for the islanders, they wasted a review when skipper and batting talisman Dimuth Karunaratne (30) chose to challenge his LBW against Vernon Philander, which was plumb in front.

Things disintegrated steadily as Steyn got rid of innings mainstay Kusal Perera (51), while Duanne Olivier (1/36) and Kagiso Rabada (2/48) worked up fearsome pace to bully the rest.

However, the plucky ninth-wicket pair of Lasith Ambuldeniya and Kasun Rajitha then proceeded to frustrate the quicks with a dogged 32-run stand that kept Sri Lanka in the game.

They certainly showed guts against a short-ball barrage, yet South Africa can also be blamed for a pretty unimaginative approach to trying to get them out.

In fact, their partnership was only ended by Aiden Markram’s fine direct hit from short leg.

Ambuldeniya continued to be influential thereafter, snapping up the wickets of Dean Elgar – caught and bowled – and Temba Bavuma – LBW – with his left-arm spinners to peg the Proteas back.

South Africa’s cause certainly wasn’t helped by Markam (28) and Hashim Amla (16) playing lazy shots to throw their wickets away.

Faf du Plessis (25 not out) and Quinton de Kock (15 not out) will hope to take advantage on Thursday on what is expected to be the best batting day of the game.

But that will require application.

For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.