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18-Jul-2014 15:04:00 GMT
Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Test, Galle

Steyn Sets up Proteas For Decisive Lead

Galle: Dale Steyn struck five decisive blows for the 23rd time in his stellar career to set the Castle Lager Proteas up for what should be a substantial first innings lead on the third day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka at Galle on Friday.

At the close of play Sri Lanka found themselves 172 runs in arrears with only one wicket left to fall in their first innings.

Steyn finished the day with figures of 5/50, his second five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka and one that has only been bettered for South Africa by Brett Schultz’s 5/48 at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo in 1993. Schultz went on to take a match-winning nine wickets in that match.

The joy in the Proteas camp at Steyn’s performance may be tempered by the fact that he took another nasty blow to his already badly bruised right hand in the third last over of the day when he attempted to stop a powerful drive by tail-ender Rangana Herath off the bowling of Morne Morkel.

Fortunately he should have plenty of time to recover when the Proteas bat for a second time tomorrow and endeavour to set Sri Lanka a target in the region of 350 or 400.

At one stage it looked as though the Protea lead might be as high as 250 when Sri Lanka slumped to 201/7 in the 76th over but the pacemen were pretty tired by that stage and the spinners were unable to finish the job.

Much of the final session belonged to the home captain, Angelo Mathews, who came into this series in brilliant batting form following his centuries in successive Tests in England that saw him score more than 300 runs in his four completed innings.

He and Herath put together the best partnership of the innings of 71 in 19 overs before Imran Tahir persuaded Mathews to swing across the line of a full toss to lose his middle stump, having looked set for his third century in successive Test matches before perishing for a valiant 89 (182 balls, 14 fours and a six).

He might well have reached his century had he not had to farm the attack once he ran out of specialist partners.

As always, Steyn was well backed up by the rest of the Proteas world-class pace attack. Vernon Philander was unlucky when a delivery clipped Upal Tharanga’s off-stump without breaking the wicket as the Sri Lankan opener went on to make second top score of 83 (155 balls, 14 fours and a six).

Morkel put in a superbly hostile spell to account for Kumar Sangakkara and this dismissal, followed four overs and six runs later by Steyn’s dismissing of Mahela Jayawardene, was the key moment of the day’s play.

An encouraging feature for the Proteas was the wicketkeeping of Quinton de Kock, who in his first Test behind the stumps made four dismissals (three catches and a stumping) and did well on his wicketkeeping debut in difficult conditions.

All three South African spinners got the ball to turn sharply at times out of the rough although consistency was a problem but there is enough encouragement for them to play significant roles on the fourth innings.

Brief scores
South Africa -
455 for 9 dec (Elgar 103, Duminy 100*)
Sri Lanka - 283 for 9 (Mathews 89, Tharanga 83, Steyn 5-50)
Status - Sri Lanka trail by 172 runs

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