Proteas survive to regain top ranking

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South Africa managed to pull off a tense day late on day five in Colombo, resisting the Sri Lanka spinners to take the series one-nil and thus reclaim the number one Test ranking off Australia.

South Africa managed to pull off a tense day late on day five in Colombo, resisting the Sri Lanka spinners to take the series one-nil and thus reclaim the number one Test ranking off Australia.

The Proteas needed to survive the day on a sharply turning track, and in the end they were eight down and Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir saw the side home, somewhat amusingly to those not rooting for Sri Lanka.

South Africa started the day on 38 for one, still well behind the 369 the hosts set them to win. They were never looking to score the runs though, rather focusing on survival, and they nearly didn't manage it.

Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar were batting at the start of play, but the latter was out without adding anything to his 13 runs. He was bowled by Dilruwan Perera early on. De Kock then continued with Hashim Amla.

The young wicketkeeper made his way to 37 on a day that didn't care about runs, before Rangana Herath claimed his wicket just after lunch. Amla and AB de Villiers then embarked upon a 25-over stand for just 25 runs.

De Villiers made 12 runs off 67 balls, while Amla added yet more deliveries to the marathon he played in the first innings. He used up three hours and 159 balls for his 25, before being caught at slip off Perera.

Faf du Plessis followed soon afterwards, out for 10, as the rain arrived again after intermittently arriving throughout the game. This was welcome for the Proteas, but they still ended up facing more than the required overs.

The final hour was a tense one, as Philander first batted with JP Duminy, who made just three runs off 65 balls, adding to the three he scored off 58 in the first dig. He departed to bring Dale Steyn in, who was out for six to give Herath his five-fer.

The final half hour was Philander and Tahir resisting all appeals, as Sri Lanka ran out of reviews. The final over was comedic, as Tahir suddenly had a case of the cramps, having faced 21 balls, and lay on the ground, using up minutes.

But it didn't really matter, as there would have been only one more over anyway, which Philander saw off, and while Kumar Sangakkara laughed at Tahir's antics, the spinner was helped off the field by his batting partner.

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