De Villiers licks flaky Sri Lanka
AB de Villiers agonisingly fell for 99 on day two of the first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Centurion, but his contribution helped ensure a huge first-innings lead for the hosts.
At stumps the Proteas were 209 ahead on 389 for nine, with Mark Boucher 49 not out and last man Imran Tahir unbeaten on 24, refusing to surrender their frustrating stand of 45.
Sri Lanka managed to get rid of danger men Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis relatively cheaply but South Africa's batting proved too deep.
De Villiers' fine innings was worthy of a 13th Test hundred but ended when he was caught on the cut to become Thisara Perera’s third victim.
Resuming this morning on 90 for the wicket of Graeme Smith, the hosts lost nightwatchman Dale Steyn for nought, run out by Rangana Herath after a mix-up with Jacques Rudolph.
Chanaka Welegedara would have dismissed Rudolph for three more than his overnight 27 had Mahela Jayawardene not shelled the catch at slip.
Amla lived dangerously but his luck ran out when he drove at Perera on 18 only to give Angelo Mathews a catch at third slip.
Rudolph finally fell for a 140-ball 44, Perera drawing the edge and Tharanga Paranavitana pouching the catch at first slip.
Kallis helped himself to three boundaries off a single Perera over before ducking into a Dilhara Fernando delivery that crashed painfully into the side of his grille.
After a lengthy delay for treatment Kallis bravely continued. He should have gone for 27 the over before lunch when he nicked Fernando to Kaushal Silva but the wicketkeeper made a hash of the catch.
He did not last long after, Mathews again safe in the cordon when Kallis edged Welegedara to fall for 31 and leave the Proteas 173 for five.
Sri Lanka sensed further inroads but de Villiers was looking solid and Ashwell Prince eased some pressure with back-to-back fours off Welegedara.
The seamers proved inconsistent, causing Tillakaratne Dilshan to bring himself and fellow spinner Herath on to slow the scoring rate.
Prince had a life on 23 when Perera dropped him at gully off the returning Fernando and another three runs later when Silva failed to grasp a tough chance standing up to Herath.
De Villiers picked up the scoring as his partner set about surviving an awkward period, bringing up his fifty by guiding Perera for four to third man.
Prince was caught behind for 39 after tea, ending a stand worth 97, Mathews rewarded for a tidy spell with his first wicket. He then reviewed a similar appeal against de Villiers' but was unsuccessful.
De Villiers raced to 89 with 13 in a Fernando over but, after a 12th four took him to the cusp of three figurs, located substitute fielder Dimuth Karunaratne who clung on close to the turf.
Boucher set about milking quick runs from a fatigued attack, although Dilshan had Vernon Philander held at slip and Thilan Samaraweera held a stunner at gully to give Welegedara Morne Morkel’s wicket.
Tahir proved an unlikely foil for Boucher, hitting four fours to the senior batsman’s six, to compound a frustrating final hour for Sri Lanka.