Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma all made half-centuries on the second day of South Africa’s practice match in Colombo, with Dean Elgar also getting a decent batting workout, hitting 43 off 48 balls. As had been the case with the Sri Lanka Board XI on day one, however, the second half of the South Africa’s innings folded, the team tumbling from 223 for 3 to 338 all out. The match was then called off.
Not among the runs on a fairly placid P Sara track, was opener Aiden Markram, who was bowled for a duck by Lahiru Gamage on the first evening, as well as Quinton de Kock and Theunis dy Bruyn, who are likely to make up the lower-middle order in the Tests.
The spinners wrought most of the damage for the hosts. Legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who has played limited-overs cricket for Sri Lanka, took 3 for 72. Dhananjaya de Silva, who will probably be in Sri Lanka’s Test XI, struck twice with his part-time offspin, removing de Bruyn and Dale Steyn.
Of the three half-centurions, du Plessis and Amla were the most convincing against spin, confident on their feet, and each capable in bullying spinners into mistakes. Du Plessis in particular took to lifting spinners over the infield, prospering especially on the legside, as he hit 13 fours and a six in his 85-ball 79. Earlier, Amla had struck 11 boundaries of his own, before retiring out on 78. Amla added 77 with Bavuma, the joint-highest partnership in the innings. Bavuma hit six fours and a six in his 58 off 103 balls.
The most dramatic period of play on day two was the over in which de Kock and Vernon Philander were dismissed, after both misread the direction of Hasaranga’s turn. Though of the Board XI’s bowlers only Dhananjaya is in the Test squad, Sri Lanka may be encouraged by a wristspinner’s effectiveness against the South Africa middle order. With Sri Lanka’s selectors in attendance on Sunday, this information is sure to be relayed to coach Chandika Hathurusingha. The Sri Lanka squad contains Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan – two bowlers whose variations can also be difficult to discern.
South Africa will travel to Galle on Monday, with the first Test scheduled to begin on Thursday.