De Kock, du Plessis give South Africa vice-like grip

South Africa

Lunch South Africa 235 and 227 for 5 (du Plessis 72*, Embuldeniya 3-51) lead Sri Lanka 191 (Perera 51, Steyn 4-48) by 271 runs

Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis pressed South Africa’s second innings forward on the third day in Durban. Both men passed fifty and added 96 to extend their team’s advantage. As the more adventurous partner, de Kock was first to his half-century, and though he fell soon afterwards, du Plessis continued to grind on with Vernon Philander for company, taking South Africa to 227 for 5 at lunch as the session brought 101.

The worries about the weather that preceded this Test have not come to fruition as the third day began under brilliant blue skies. Without a cloud covering, there was not much swing on offer for the quicks in the first hour, and de Kock was soon on his way with three boundaries in Vishwa Fernando’s first two overs of the morning. While the first was off a thick outside edge, the off-drive was of sublime authority.

In doing so, de Kock raced ahead of du Plessis, but the skipper caught up with a pair of drives off Lakmal, the first of which took the team’s score past 150. The second was the shot of the morning as du Plessis played with a straight bat, high elbow and held pose for the cameras as he laced it through the covers.

With both batsmen ticking, the lead soon progressed beyond 200, but the batsmen and fielders didn’t have it all their own way. De Kock smashed an inside edge onto his box to wince in pain. There was also some concern as Kusal Mendis was struck on an already-strapped right hand as he dived low to pouch a thick edge off Faf.

De Kock was the lone wicket when he was trapped by one that spun back in sharply to hit the pad. He burnt a review in trying to contest a decision that looked very straightforward. Philander walked in with South Africa already 235 ahead, while at the other end du Plessis brought up his 18th Test fifty, and first at this ground, with a cut to deep point off Kasun Rajitha.

While Philander dug in, du Plessis broke free with back to back cover drives off a tiring Fernando that took him into the 60s. Those boundaries also pushed South Africa’s lead beyond 250, and the hosts went to lunch in almost full control of the game.

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