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Sangakkara, Silva steady Sri Lanka, but Proteas in control

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Sri Lanka rode on a Sangakkara fifty as they posted 110-1 at stumps on day 4 of the Galle test match. South Africa declared on 206-6 at tea as they set the hosts Sri Lanka 370 to win in four sessions.

Dean Elgar, centurion from the first innings, got South Africa off and running in a bid to build on a hard-earned 163-run lead as he swept spinner Rangana Herath to the boundary. Alviro Petersen looked a little bogged down his end but soon cut Herath past point for four as the two openers began well. However, Elgar attempted booming drive and knicked one behind off Herath for 12. Petersen too the attack to Dilruwan Perera in the company of Faf Du Plessis as the Proteas pushed their lead past 200.

However, Perera struck back as he had Petersen caught behind for 32, the South Arica on 54-2.

Hashim Amla, alongwith Du Plessis, steadied the South Africans past the 250-run lead after lunch but was caught at short mid-on off Perera for 22. Du Plessis slapped one past mid-off for his first boundary before De Villiers eased in with a sweep off Herath. Just when Du Plessis started to look threatening, Herath got one to bite off the pitch to knock back the surprised batsman’s off stump as South Africa sat on 133-4, comfortably ahead by 300 runs.

De Villiers soon switched gears and sent Perera for consecutive boundaries as he and Quinton De Kock looked to up the ante as the duo added 62 in 11 overs for the 5th wicket. De Kock raced to 22 off 23 balls before De Villiers brought up his half century. However, AB tried one cheeky shot too many and succumbed to Perera who rattled the batsman’s stumps. De Kock lobbed an easy catch to bowler Perera as he walked back for 36 in the last over before tea, as the Proteas then declared with a lead of 369 runs.

The Sri Lankan openers walked out to bat after tea to counter the 32 overs that remained in the day. However, Dale Steyn stuck in the third over as he had Upul Tharanga caught behind for 14. Kumar Sangakkara and Kaushal Silva steadied the innings thereafter, with former creaming two boundaries off a Philander over.

Silva got going his end with a swift leg glance to the boundary off Morkel as the duo took Sri Lanka past the 50 run mark. Sangakkara welcomed Imran Tahir with a beauty through the covers in his first over as the hosts started to look comfortable. Sangakkara continued to go after Tahir, taking him for a four and a six as the hosts went past the 100-run mark, with Sangakkara getting to a half century. The Lankans still needed 260 to win at stumps with Sangakkara unbeaten on 58 while Silva had reached 37

The South Africans would be get the remaining 9 wickets tomorrow to register a test win. However, the hosts would believe that they too could knock off the remaining deficit and go 1-0 up.