South Africa 392 (Elgar 129, de Kock 101, Kumara 6-122) v Sri Lanka
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Quinton de Kock’s century powered South Africa’s morning © AFP
Quinton de Kock secured his third Test century as South Africa secured a strong position in the second Test in Cape Town. They were dismissed in a slightly extended morning session for 392 with de Kock falling for 101, one of six wickets for the unflinching young Sri Lankan fast bowler Lahiru Kumara.
Not everything was going swimmingly for South Africa, however, as they reflected upon news on ESPNcricinfo that Kyle Abbott has been agonising for months over whether to abandon his international career and take up a professional deal in England with Hampshire as a Kolpak player. Cricket South Africa were preparing a response.
De Kock does not spend too much time on reconnaissance: life is for living, and the sooner the better. Resuming with 68 to his name, he eased Suranga Lakmal’s introductory ball of the day to the extra-cover boundary. Confident on the drive from the outset, he had his hundred around 40 minutes later, an entertaining affair which benefited from a final slice of good fortune as an inside-edge against Kumara skimmed past leg stump.
He fell later in the over, jabbing a catch to the wicketkeeper as Kumara seamed a fullish ball away from around the wicket. Dinesh Chandimal took the catch, back behind the stumps after handing his duties to Kusal Mendis on the first day because of illness. Mendis had kept well, so encouraging a rapid recovery.
Left-handed batsmen seem ever more dominant in Test cricket and they had started the year well: Dean Elgar and de Kock on the Cape; David Warner and Matt Renshaw in Sydney.
Abbott, perhaps unsurprisingly in the circumstances, fell in the second over of the day without adding to his overnight score of 16, the nightwatchman beaten by turn and bounce from the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
Herath’s immediate presence in the attack was a reminder that Sri Lanka were a bowler down. Nuwan Pradeep’s left thigh strain had not been regarded as serious, but he reported lingering discomfort during the warm-up and did not take the field. Herath conducted a holding operation with the gentle motions of a man philosophically getting up from a sofa to pick up the tv remote.
There was an anticipation upon de Kock’s departure, at eight down, that South Africa’s thoughts might turn quickly to bowling, but they were in the mood to keep Sri Lanka in the field for a while longer.
Kumara, as strong as a bullock, returned for his third spell of the morning 20 minutes before lunch and immediately claimed Vernon Philander with a threatening delivery on an excellent off-stump line.
Lunch was delayed with South Africa nine-down. Kumara did not deserve that. He roused himself for a final time to have Kagiso Rabada caught off an inside edge, a seventh wicketkeeping catch leaving Kumara, in only his third Test, with figures of 6 for 122. Sri Lanka have discovered a combative fast bowler of genuine promise.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo