It was the fourth day of the test between Sri Lanka and South Africa. The 4th day was very much crucial for both the teams and even for the fate of the series. Sri Lanka started their 2nd innings in the concluding phases of the day with a lead of 139 runs on board. They resumed their play today with the 150 run lead over South Africa. Undoubtedly, Sri Lankans were ahead of the South Africans at the start of the day and were in cruise control of the game.
South Africans started the day with an utter effort to get back the game under their control. The likes of Steyn and Morkel were fired up in the initial overs. After defending successfully for over 4 overs, the Sri Lankans lost their first wicket in the day in the 10th over of the innings in the form of Upul Tharanga. Tharanga’s return to international cricket thus goes bad. He failed to deliver in each of the innings in this test. Sangakkara came in next and started playing well. Slowly, there was a good partnership being built on between Sangakkara and Kaushal Silva. Both were going on well until the 22nd over of the innings when Silva was dismissed by Morkel at a score of 26 runs. Then came in the centurion of the first innings, Mahela Jayawardene. But he was dismissed in the very next over by Imran Tahir to put Sri Lanka in some sorts of bother. Jayawardene was dismissed for a duck. Mathews came in next and eased out things for Sri Lanka alongside Sangakkara. Both were going on well and at lunch, Sri Lanka were 3 down at a score of 108 runs.
There was a slight rain after lunch which delayed the play to an extent. The second session started with Mathews and Sangakkara heading Sri Lanka towards a good score. The partnership continued well and after some overs, Sangakkara completed his half century. Mathews was playing well too and he has been in great touch with the bat since he was assigned captaincy. In the 40th over of the innings, Morkel broke the 81-run partnership when Sangakkara edged a ball from him which was collected well by De Kock. Sangakkara departed after scoring 72 runs. Vithanage came in next. But he could not stay for long. He was dismissed at a score of 7 runs by Morkel. The wicket Keeper batsman, Dickwella came in next and started assisting his skipper to build a partnership. But he was dismissed at the edge of tea break and at tea, Sri Lanka were at 203 for the loss of 6 wickets.
The lead was strong enough and Sri Lanka seemed to have plans to declare before the conclusion of the day’s play. Mathews started playing the anchor role in batting with the tail-enders like Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath who assisted Mathews for short partnerships. Finally, after the dismissal of Herath, Sri Lanka declared their innings at a score of 229 runs. Mathews remained unbeaten at the crease with a score of 63 runs. Morkel had been the pick of the bowlers for the South Africans with 4 wickets in 9 overs by conceding 45 runs.
With a target of 369 runs in the fourth innings, South Africa came to bat in the final phase of the day’s play. Sri Lankan spinners did put the initial pressure upon the South African openers, Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar. In the 9th over, Petersen was caught brilliantly in the silly point region and South Africa lost their first wicket. Petersen was dismissed for a duck off 25 balls. There was a change in the batting line up and De Kock came in next. He and Elgar did built a good partnership and South Africa were 38 for the loss of a single wicket when the day’s play got suspended due to bad light.
So in the final day, South Africa has to score 331 runs to win the test while Sri Lankans will be aiming to grab the 9 South African wickets. With the pitch giving answers to spinners, Sri Lanka has better chances to equalize the series.