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Steyn, Morkel instrumental as Proteas take 1-0 lead against Sri Lanka

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Hashim Amla won his first test as South African skipper as the Proteas upstaged the Sri Lankans to take a 1-0 lead in the short 2-test series by beating the hosts by 153 runs in the first test at Galle. Set a target of 370 to win in four sessions, the Sri Lankans folded for 216 as pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel picked up four wickets each.

The hosts started from their overnight score of 110-1 as they were 260 runs away from their target. Dale Steyn posed plenty of problems in the opening few overs despite the two Lankan batsmen bringing up their century stand. Steyn was rewarded soon enough as he got Silva to edge a good length delivery behind to a diving Quinton De Kock. Sangakkara was given a reprieve in the following over from Morkel when on 65, with the keeper playing culprit. Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn bowled some intense, probing overs as Mahela Jayawardene looked unsettled at the wicket. Sri Lanka’s most reliable batting pair showed grit and countered the pressure with a couple of boundaries before it took a full delivery from Morkel to have Mahela caught behind for 10.

Lahiru Thirimanne immediately had immense pressure put on him before he shrug it off with a six down the ground of leggie Imran Tahir. Amla chose to give his quicks a rest from their morning exploits, tossing the ball to JP Duminy. The move worked right away, as Sangakkara hit the very first ball straight to Amla at short mid-wicket. Well-set Sangakkara walked away in disgust having just thrown away his wicket, with the Sri Lankans in wobbly at 146-4.

Amla smelt a massive chance following the wicket of the big fish and immediately brought Steyn back in for another spell. And sure enough, two overs into his spell and Steyn steamed in to have Thirimanne caught in the slips for just 12. More trouble followed for the hosts as Morkel had Dinesh Chandimal glove one to the keeper as South Africa took total control before lunch, needing just the 4 wickets remaining for a win.

Steyn got one to hold its line as Dilruwan Perera edged it straight to keeper De Kock for nought as soon as play resumed after the lunch break. Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath put up some resistance, with the latter scoring heavily in boundaries. Herath reverse swept Tahir to the third man boundary before top edging one off Duminy to bring out a running catch from De Villiers at square leg.

With the Proteas firmly in control, and two wickets away from a win, Mathews launched into Duminy, sending him for a four and a six. Morkel though sealed things for the Proteas as he took the remaining wickets in the space of 3 balls. Morkel bumped Suranga Lakmal with a short ball who could only fend it to short leg before dismissing Shaminda Eranga in similar fashion.

The South Africans are looking a good unit and will be determined to take this brilliant performance into the next test in Colombo starting on July 24th.

Mini Scorecard:

South Africa, 1st Innings, 455-9d (166.2 overs, 2.73 rpo)

D Elgar 103 (187)  D Perera 4-162 (53.2)

JP Duminy 100 (206) S Lakmal 3-75 (33)


Sri Lanka, 1st Innings, 292 all out (104.5 overs, 2.78 rpo)

A Mathews 89 (182) D Steyn 5-54 (23)

U Tharanga 83 (155) M Morkel 3-49 (18.5)


South Africa, 2nd Innings, 206-6d (50.2 overs, 4.02 rpo)

AB De Villiers 51 (58) D Perera 4-79 (19.2)

F du Plessis 37 (78) R Herath 2-84 (22)


Sri Lanka, 2nd Innings, 216 all out (71.3 overs, 3.02 rpo)

K Sangakkara 76 (145)  M Morkel 4-29 (13.3)

K Silva 38 (98)  D Steyn 4-45 (17)