Sri Lanka strike early in Galle Test against South Africa after Dimuth Karunaratne’s fighting unbeaten ton
Sport360 -
Karunaratne struck his eighth Test ton to lead Sri Lanka's fightback.

Dimuth Karunaratne and Sri Lanka’s tailenders fought back valiantly in a thrilling opening day in the first Test against South Africa at Galle on Thursday.

After skipper Dinesh Chandimal was ruled out of the series along with coach Chandika Hathurusinghe for pleading guilty to their Level Three offence in the tour of the West Indies, pacer Suranga Lakmal once again led the team for the second match in a row.

Electing to bat first after Lakmal won the toss, Sri Lanka’s openers Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka added 44 runs for the first wicket before the latter fell to Dale Steyn who took one step close to overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading Test wicket-taker.

Kagiso Rabada then turned on the heat with the ball with a three-wicket burst that reduced the hosts to 119-5. The Proteas had lined up with two spinners in the form of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi and the move paid off with the latter getting in amongst the wickets as Sri Lanka were further reduced to 176-8.

Pacer Kagiso Rabada picked up four wickets for South Africa.

Pacer Kagiso Rabada picked up four wickets for South Africa.

Karunaratne, who had recently returned from an injury layoff, frustrated the visitors however with a classy innings full of steel and determination. The 30-year-old opener brought up his eighth Test ton as he carried the tail with him to get Sri Lanka closer to the 300-run mark.

Karunaratne forged a 48-run stand for the ninth wicket with skipper Lakmal before putting together 63 runs with last man Lakshan Sandakan as Sri Lanka ultimately posted 287 in their first innings. Rabada was the pick of the South Africa bowlers with figures of 4-50 while Shamsi picked up three wickets. Karunaratne carried his bat as he remained unbeaten on 158.

In reply, South Africa’s innings got off to a horrible start as Aiden Markram’s lean patch continued as Rangana Herath had him caught at slip for another duck.

The visitors were batting at 4-1 when stumps were drawn at Galle.

BRIEF SCORES

Sri Lanka First Innings: 287 all out

Dimuth Karunaratne – 158 not out

Kagiso Rabada: 4-50

South Africa First Innings: 4-1

Rangana Herath : 1-1