Intriguing final day looms in Galle

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A fascinating final day loomed in Galle between South Africa and Sri Lanka, after the hosts reached stumps on day four of the first Test on 110 for one, trailing the Proteas by 260 and Kumar Sangakkara well set on 58.

A fascinating final day loomed in Galle between South Africa and Sri Lanka, after the hosts reached stumps on day four of the first Test on 110 for one, trailing the Proteas by 260 and Kumar Sangakkara well set on 58.

South Africa declared their second innings on 206 for six, during the tea break, leaving the hosts needing 370 runs to win over four sessions, though more feasibly needing to see out the match.

But the situation was less clear cut the more evening progressed, with the Proteas failing to stop Sanga from adding another half ton to his records, at a brisk pace. The fact that Galle has never seen a 300-plus fourth innings score will not matter to him.

The hosts started the day on 283 for nine, with Rangana Herath and Shaminda Eranga coming out to bat, still well behind the 455 the Proteas had posted. Eranga was batting with a stitched hand after splitting the webbing the day before.

The pair lasted half an hour, with Dale Steyn firing it in at the tail enders, but it was Morkel who got the breakthrough to remove Herath for six, leaving Sri Lanka all our eight runs short of 300.

Though it must be said, his wicket was down to the sheer brilliant in the field of AB de Villiers, who took a diving, one-handed catch in the slips once the ball was essentially already past him.

This left South Africa with a lead of 163, and turning an eye to a bold declaration late in the day, looking to put the hosts in to bat for a day and bit on an increasingly turning track.

The rest of the session was filled with appeals and forward defensives, as the spinning track became a nightmare for the batsmen. Dean Elgar managed just 12 runs before catching an inside edge off Herath, caught behind by Dinesh Chandimal.

Alviro Petersen was able to made 32 runs, but was out just before lunch. He played forward to Dilruwan Perera and a massive appeal saw Billy Bowden lift the crooked finger for caught behind. Petersen reviewed it, and he looked to have missed it, but without Hot Spot there was not enough evidence to overturn the on-field decision.

The afternoon session was full of runs as De Villiers, Du Plessis and De Kock added 51, 37 and 36 apiece. De Villiers scored his half ton off 55 balls, while De Kock's wicket brought about tea and the end of the innings.

There has never been a fourth innings score over 300 at this ground, and the highest successful chase is 96, so the declaration from Amla was not a surprise, and the Proteas would have hoped not a risky one.

But with daring comes risk, and while Dale Steyn removed Upul Tharanga early on, the visiting spinners failed to take advantage of the conditions. Sangakkara showed his mastery of his home tracks, reaching his 50 off 66 balls, while Kaushal Silva was on 37 at stumps.

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