Betway Test Series - South Africa Vs Sri Lanka
1st Test - Centurion - Day 3
South Africa recorded their highest score against Sri Lanka, when they amassed a total of 621 runs to take a comfortable 225 run lead at the end of the third day's play of the 1st Betway Test Series, played between the two countries at the Centurion, Super Sport Park yesterday.
The Proteas, despite surpassing the highest ever team total against Sri Lanka, also went on to record the highest ever total posted at the Centurion ground.
The previous highest score the Proteas recorded against Sri Lanka was when they scored 580 for 4 declared at Cape Town in 2012, whilst the highest total recorded at this venue prior to yesterday, was when South Africa scored 620 for 4 declared against India in 2010.
From the moment day three commenced, it was all about Faf du Plessis.
It was about Faf getting to his century, to surpassing his highest personal score of 137, to being involved in a record 7th wicket partnership with Keshav Maharaj to eventually being dismissed for 199 runs.
Whilst all of this was taking place, South Africa made the Sri Lankan bowlers and fielders toil under a 31 degree hot day.
There was hushed silence all across the ground when eventually Faf du Plessis got out.
Even the Sri Lankan players on the field felt sorry for him for not reaching the double century mark after he had toiled for more than a day and a half and faced 276 balls.
The South African dressing room looked stunned, with his team mate Dean Elgar even going on to bury his face more in empathy rather than of sadness, as he too had once been out for 199 in the past.
Faf du Plessis joined the elite '199 Club', where nine other prominent cricketers before him in Mudassar Nazar (Pak), Mohamed Azharuddin (Ind), Matthew Elliot (Aus), Steve Waugh (Aus), Sanath Jayasuriya (SL), Steve Smith (AUS),K.L.Rahul (Ind), Younis Khan (Pak) and Dean Elgar (SA) also fell on that identical score.
Faf Du Plessis' long vigil at the crease and also a match winning 174 run 5th wicket partnership with Temba Bavuma not only swelled South African total but also went on to rip the heart out of the Sri Lankan skipper as he had no proper bowler left on the field to bowl.
It so happened that the Sri Lanka players, especially those that were half fit, started falling like ninepins in a game of Bowling.
Batsman Dhananjaya De Silva was already ruled out with a grade two tear of his left thigh on day one and Kasun Rajitha was ruled out on day two after sending down a mere 13 deliveries.
Paceman Lahiru Kumara seems certain to join his two colleagues who would not take further part in this game, due to a suffered groin injury during day three.
Soon to follow was debutant Hasaranga De Silva who landed heavily on his knee when trying to stop the ball from crossing the boundary line.
He left the field but returned to hobble and scalp four wickets before limping to take a catch running from short third man towards the point region that ended the South African innings.
In between Wicket Keeper Niroshan Dickwella was stung by a bee during play and finally Dinesh Chandimal collapsed near the boundary line when walking back to the pavilion when stumps were drawn for the day.
Do these injuries stem from a lack of fitness, a lack of training or a lack of technique in not knowing how to dive and slide when attempting to stop the cricket ball?
Whatever it may be, there sure is a serious lack of something that needs to be fixed and that too really quick.
Lessons could be learnt, especially from cricketers such as Kapil Dev, who is recorded to have had a 16 year injury free career.
There were others, such as Brendan McCullum, Adam Gilchrist, Mike Hussey and Sir Alistair Cooke too.
Even though they may have been cricketers of the past, there is surely something that ought to be learnt from them, especially in knowing how to preserve one's body, as the game of cricket demands it.
Sri Lanka kept toiling and eventually was gifted a wicket when Temba Bavuma decided to walk back to the pavilion after he played and completely missed a ball from medium pacie Dasun Shanaka.
Even before the ball could have been comfortably taken by wicketkeeper Dickwella, Bavuma was seen with the bat tucked under his arm, walking back to the pavilion.
Even Snicko and replays indicated that there was daylight visible between both ball and bat.
Thereafter Wiian Mulder joined Faf du Plessis at the crease and two posted an useful 77 runs, before the record breaking 7th wicket partnership between Keshav Maharaj and du Plessis took over.
Sri Lankan debutant Hasaranga De Silva who had a fiery baptism into test cricket, returned as the most successful bowler with figures of 4 for 171 off 45 overs bowled of which 5 were maidens.
Sri Lanka in their second essay faced 12 tough overs hurled at them to end the day on 65 for the loss of 2 wickets.
First to go was skipper Dimuth Karunaratne who was bowled when the ball kept extremely low and Kusal Mendis who was out for a duck, when he was caught at first slip playing at a ball he should have left alone.
Lungi Ngidi took both wickets that fell by bowling six wonderful overs of pure pace and swing.
Sri Lanka who trails still by 160 runs, will resume day four yet unsure as to how many of their injured players will bat if the need arises.