JP Duminy's unbeaten century put South Africa in prime position on Day 2 of their first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday.
Starting the day at 268-5, having lost a handful of wickets in the third session on the first day, Quinton de Kock and nightwatchman Dale Steyn continued on before the latter was removed in the opening 10 overs.
Duminy made his way to the crease and proceeded to sweep beautifully on his way to a fourth Test century as he slowly guided his side to a very competitive-looking first-innings score.
|Du Plessis||c Silva||Perera||80||196|
|De Kock||c Jayawardene||Perera||51||90|
|Extras||(lb 2, nb 1)||3|
Steyn was bowled for three runs by Suranga Lakmal, having done his job of allowing De Kock to play his way in, and he was joined by Duminy, coming in at the unfamiliar position of No. 8 in the batting order.
De Kock reached his half century but was caught soon after by Mahela Jayawardene off the bowling of Dilruwan Perera to leave the visitors on 314-7.
With Duminy at the crease, however, they always had the chance of piling on a few more runs, and indeed the 30-year-old left-hander proceeded to do so as he put on 85 runs in partnership with Vernon Philander, who was eventually trapped leg before wicket by Angelo Mathews.
Unfortunately for the Sri Lankan bowlers, there was to be no quick tumbling of the tail as Morne Morkel came to the crease and admirably backed up Duminy as he headed toward his century.
South Africa's Day 1 century-scorer, Dean Elgar, had been highly complimentary of Sri Lanka's bowling attack in their home conditions after Wednesday's play, per Firdose Moonda of ESPNcricinfo:
The Sri Lankan seamers are very good exponents of their own conditions. The minute the ball started getting soft, they started changing their paces and bowling the odd cutter.
However, despite their toil, the Sri Lankans gained little reward on a docile pitch, and Duminy reached his century from 206 balls with—fittingly—a composed sweep, having batted very calmly with the tail.
JP Duminy is the 4th SAfrican to hit a Test century batting at No 8 in an away Test, first since Paul Winslow at Old Trafford 1955. #SLvSA— Cricket Record (@cricinfo_record) July 17, 2014
One ball later, Morkel lost focus and was dismissed for 22 from 74 balls, and South Africa declared on 455-9, leaving a little time in the final session to have a bowl at the hosts.
|Extras||(lb 1, nb 1)||2|
Kaushal Silva and Upul Tharanga batted sensibly for a dozen overs, managing to finish the day none down and set themselves up to take a proper tilt at South Africa's impressive total on Friday.
With it being only a two-match series—the second is in Colombo—neither side will want to lose the opener and surrender their chances of a series win.
The South African bowlers may be in for a tough time on Friday, but with the likes of Steyn in the side they will be hoping for some early wickets on Day 3 to put them in the driving seat for victory.