Bad light caused an early stoppage in play on Day 4 of South Africa's second Test in Sri Lanka, leaving the visitors on 38-1 after 17 overs of their second innings, requiring 331 more runs to win in Colombo.
The International Cricket Council provided an update of the scoreline at stumps, with Sri Lanka declaring to set South Africa an imposing target:
At the time of the hosts' declaration, captain Angelo Mathews had continued his recent strong form with a score of 63 from 83 balls, per ESPN Cricinfo:
Play will pick back up at 9:45 a.m. local time on Monday morning (5:15 a.m. BST/1:15 a.m. ET).
With the weather swelling and conditions becoming unpredictable, former Sri Lankan player Russell Arnold defended the timing of Sri Lanka's decision to declare, which may have been seen as too cautious by some:
Its a fair declaration. ..tough to plan for the weather after all the change has been sudden.— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) July 27, 2014
The forecast isn't entirely more promising for Monday, but the hosts at least have a sizeable lead to defend.
Should South Africa avoid defeat, they'll return to No. 1 in the world Test cricket rankings, enough motivation to encourage a focused batting effort on Day 5. And Sri Lanka have the difficult task of taking nine wickets from the Proteas, who undoubtedly benefited more from Sunday's early conclusion.
|Tharanga||c de Kock||b Steyn||30||45||40||4||0|
|K Silva||c Philander||b M Morkel||26||99||57||5||0|
|Sangakkara||c de Kock||b M Morkel||72||131||90||8||0|
|M Jayawardene||c Elgar||b Tahir||0||8||6||0||0|
|Vithanage||c du Plessis||b M Morkel||7||7||8||1||0|
|Dickwella||c de Villiers||b Steyn||16||24||21||2||0|
|D Perera||b Tahir||7||7||7||1||0|
|Herath||c de Villiers||b M Morkel||4||14||11||0||0|
|Extras||1nb 0w 1b 2lb||4|
|Total||for 8 (53.4 ovs)||229|
|Petersen||c Vithanage||b Herath||0||21||25||0||0|
|de Kock||not out||21||25||31||1||0|
|Extras||0nb 0w 0b 4lb||4||4|
|Total||for 1 (17.0 ovs)||38||38|
South Africa will, however, seek to show a bit more intent in their batting when play resumes. As ESPN Cricinfo noted at the time, bad conditions or not, the Proteas seemed to be lacking initiative in their second innings:
However, the likelihood is that the weather will determine the result of this Test. Arnold provided a glimpse of the stormy conditions at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, hoping that brighter scenes will be on display when the players retake their places:
Play will start at 9/45 tomorrow. ..hopefully the weather stays away.— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) July 27, 2014
Its Ouch ... At the SSC pic.twitter.com/wsQ4mCv1Pg— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) July 27, 2014
Alviro Petersen was the only visiting batsman to fall on Sunday, for nought. The 33-year-old faced 25 balls without scoring, eventually handing his wicket to Rangana Herath, who saw Kithuruwan Vithanage take an easy catch after 8.1 overs.
The aim will be to now fit 98 overs into Monday's play, but the one certainty is that if South Africa can hang on to clinch their series triumph, they will be entirely deserving of that No. 1 spot.
Monday will see matters come to a climax, where one can only hope the conditions allow for a competitive conclusion in Colombo.