At least one Sri Lankan enjoyed himself at the Wanderers. The third Test followed a largely predictable path as South Africa went about trying to secure a 3-0 series whitewash by following up a first-innings score of 426 with four top-order wickets before the close of the second day but Nuwan Pradeep’s ferocious four-wicket burst at least gave Sri Lanka something for their tour diary as the Wanderers lived up to its billing as one of the premier arenas for fast bowling.
South Africa maintained a grip on the match despite losing their last seven wickets for 88, with Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada picking up a brace apiece to take their combined tally in the series to 31 at 15.03. Bad light brought an early close to the evening session, with Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal having battled through several overs of insistent probing as the clouds closed in above the ground. Sri Lanka’s hopes of respectability will lie with their two senior batsmen.
They needed their top order to show steady heads after Pradeep and his whirling limbs had brought Sri Lanka back into the contest by taking 4 for 1 in 18 balls before lunch but Philander reinforced South African conviction that they had established a match-defining position with his first over with the new ball. Dimuth Karunaratne survived a review for caught behind to his third delivery but made certain of his fate two balls later when some seam movement from Philander’s immaculate line drew a clearly discernible edge to Quinton de Kock.
Kaushal Silva and Kusal Mendis survived the odd streaky moment to reach tea but both fell soon after to Rabada. Another thin edge behind did for Silva to end a 47-run stand before Mendis, who struck six fours and a six and also saw the debutant Duanne Olivier put down a straightforward caught-and-bowled chance during a lively knock, was chiselled out by Rabada’s bouncer, a simple catch lobbing off the gloves to gully. In the next over, Dhananjaya de Silva speared a drive point as Sri Lanka subsided to 70 for 4.