Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st Test, Day 1 Review: Karunaratne keeps Lanka’s nose out of water

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st Test, Day 1 Review: Karunaratne keeps Lanka’s nose out of water

Sri Lanka finished their innings on 287 and in return picked one Proteas wicket before stumps.

Dimuth Karunaratne
Dimuth Karunaratne. (Photo Source: ICC)

On a day where wickets fell like droplets of water from the sky, Dimuth Karunaratne proved to be the strong gush of wind that drove the dark clouds away and kept his team dry. Sri Lankan captain Suranga Lakmal won the toss and decided to bat first, it was a clear indication that batting would get tougher as the game progressed. The way ball bounced and turned from the spinners on the very first day makes it certain how the pitch is going to behave. But amidst all the adversities Karunaratne scored a magnificent hundred and carried his bat unbeaten on 158.

South Africa opted for a balanced attack with equal emphasis on pace and spin – fielding both Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi along with Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. Steyn was back but not so much on the field as he still showed signs of carrying a fragile hamstring. In all he shared 13 overs from the 78.4 his team had to bowl in the first innings, he had to leave the field at least twice but didn’t stay off for long. Styen still bowled 5 overs more than Vernon Philander, though both the bowlers yielded a wicket each it was Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi who did most of the hard work.

Sri Lanka had a good opening session where their batsmen looked confident and stable, the 44-run partnership Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka shared is their best in 17 innings.

Rabada fire

Shamsi, the left-arm wrist spinner knew it was a long day and he was patient, stuck to consistent lines and waited for the ball to do the rest. He was able to extract turn and bounce from the pitch, which kept him in the game almost every ball. At one stage he bowled 20 overs in a spell consistently holding one end while his skipper rotated the likes of Maharaj, Rabada and Steyn. He was rewarded for his effort when Dhananjaya de Silva missed one and was bowled for just 11.

Karunaratne all this while was focused on keeping his team away from the dark. He took the total beyond 100. Steyn picked his only wicket of the inning dismissing Kusal Mendis and soon after Kagiso Rabada charged in and bowled a heavy spell. He got rid of the most experienced name in the Lankan line-up Angelo Mathews as he edged the first ball to Quinton de Kock. Rabada then used his pace and bounce, hurried on to Roshen Silva who was caught at short leg by Aiden Markram.

Late resistance

The lower order had no answer to Rabada who finished his spell with four wickets and Shamsi who bagged three. However, the Lankan inning didn’t close without resistance. Karunaratne who was inching closer to his 8th Test ton and the first against South Africa found support from the No.10 and 11 batters. He shared a 48-run partnership for the 10th wicket with skipper Lakmal and Lakshan Sandakan scored 25 – becoming the third best contributor in the inning as they compiled a 63-run stand for the last wicket.

No Proteas bowler produced a delivery that could trump the 30-year-old opener and he took the team really close to 300. Karunaratne was batting on 158 when the last wicket fell at the other end. On a wicket that is as tricky as this 287 is a really good total and Sri Lanka will certainly fancy their chances.

There were still 4 overs left in the day and Lakmal brought spinners from both ends. It took Rangana Herath just 4 balls to get Aiden Markram who was caught by Angelo Mathews and South Africa closed play one down for 4 runs.

Brief Scores:

Sri Lanka – 287 all out (Dimuth Karunaratne 158*; Kagiso Rabada 4/50, Tabraiz Shamsi 3/91)

South Africa – 4/1 in 4 overs (Rangana Herath 1/1)