De Kock and Philander hold key

South Africa

The Proteas will be banking on the seventh-wicket partnership between Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander to take back the advantage in the first Test match against Sri Lanka.

The Proteas surrendered a solid start with a burst of wickets late on the opening day, a disappointing finish after the majority of the batsmen made promising starts.

Proteas all-rounder, JP Duminy, who was the top-scorer of the day with a brisk 63, feels the partnership between the last two remaining specialist batsmen will be a big factor given the challenging conditions.

Duminy said: “With the start that we had today, it was a bold move to bat first on the wicket that we got today, I thought it was a positive one.

“The way that Dean (Elgar) and Stephen (Cook) started was exceptional. Unfortunately we didn’t capitalise on it, some of us got starts but nobody got a hundred, we will be disappointed with that.

“We are six down, probably two too many there at the end of the day’s play, but we have two quality batters out there that can potentially get us over that 350 mark.

“If we can battle our way to 400 that will stand us in good stead going forward.

“It’s the type of wicket where there is a bit of grass and as the Test goes on it can create some divots in the pitch which can create some variable bounce on day three and four. A big first innings total is crucial in this Test match.”

Duminy has taken charge of his promotion to number four, and played with authority and confidence on his way to 63, which include 10 boundaries. He gave credit to fellow batsman, Hashim Amla, during their important third-wicket partnership of 73, which anchored the innings after the successive dismissals of Elgar (45) and Cook (59) after lunch.

Of his rapid start Duminy said: “You can get ahead of yourself.

“There were a few half-volley’s there to put away and you can get ahead of yourself. I needed to come back and focus on each ball. What was good for me was Hash (Amla) at the other side.

“He kept reminding me to focus on the next ball, that is the positive thing about the partnership we created out there. Yes, he potentially didn’t add too many (runs) to the partnership but he added a lot of value to my innings.”