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Lankans strike late to peg South Africans back at stumps

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Hosts Sri Lanka put up a spirited fight in the last few hours of the day’s play as they struck at intervals to leave South Africa on 268-5 at stumps on day 1 of the first test match at Galle.

Dean Elgar stole the limelight early-on as he stepped into the big shoes of retired South African opener Graeme Smith to bring up his second test hundred. Hashim Amla won his first toss as captain and elected to bat first on a dry pitch that looked good for batting. Elgar and Alviro Petersen started sedately, before they soon made merry and punished the loose deliveries from the Lankan bowlers a batting looked fairly comfortable.

Petersen was trapped plumb in front of wicket for 34, just as he was easing into his innings, and was given out even after he sought the help of DRS. Faf Du Plessis began with the 1s and 2s while Elgar continued the boundary flow his end as he hit off spinner Dilruwan Perera for a six and a four before the Proteas posted 111-1 at lunch.

Elgar and Du Plessis began cautiously for the first hour after lunch, adding just the 25 runs before Du Plessis got stuck into Perera as he sent him for consecutive boundaries. The duo celebrated their 100-run stand before Elgar danced down the track and launched Perera for six to get to his fine century. Du Plessis, meanwhile, worked his way to a half-century as the visitors finished a good session after lunch on 195-1.

Suranga Lakmal, who was making a comeback to the Sri Lankan side after missing the tests in England, gave his side a relieving breakthrough as he sent Elgar back for 103 in only the third over since play resumed. Herath, who bowled a neat spell his end, ended skipper Amla’s nervy stay at the crease for just 11. AB De Villiers settled in well in the company of Du Plessis as he took the charge to Perera, smacking him to the long-on boundary for a start.

Du Plessis looked fairly comfortable in the crease and was determined to be there at stumps, but was dismissed in the final overs of the day as he was caught at short leg off Perera for 80, a century gone begging. Quinton De Kock joined De Villiers at the crease as the Sri Lankans took the new ball through Rangana Herath. Suranga Lakmal was brought back in the penultimate over of the day and the move rewarded the hosts, as De Villiers was clean bowled for 21, leaving the Proteas at 268-5 at stumps. De Kock was unbeaten on 17 while nightwatchman Dale Steyn is yet to face a delivery.

The Sri Lankans will be fairly satisfied with their late comeback and will look to bundle out the Proteas before lunch tomorrow, should the rain stay away.

Mini Scorecard:

South Africa, 1st Innings, stumps- 268-5 (91 overs, 2.94 rpo)

D Elgar 103 (187)  D Perera 2-100 (27)

Du Plessis 80 (196) S Lakmal 2-29 (16)