Durban - Kumar Sangakkara, the world’s No 1 rated batsman, completed one of the last missing
milestones on his outstanding CV when he hit a maiden Test century on South
African soil at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Wednesday.
It was his
28th century overall at the game’s premier level and was primarily
responsible for the visitors stretching their overall lead to 426 runs by the
close of business on day three.
have at last got down to the Sri Lankan tail and it is likely that Tillekeratne
Dilshan will allow his lower-order to bat out the innings and set the Proteas a
target in the region of 450 runs with more than five sessions in which to take
the necessary 10 wickets to square the series.
It is a
target that has never been achieved in the history of the game before although
England did make a monumental 654/5 in the notorious drawn ‘Timeless Test’ at
the same venue in 1939.
Proteas’ most successful runs chase has been the 414 they made against
Australia at Perth in 2008 while the West Indies hold the world record with the
418 they made against Australia. The Proteas did chase down 340 to beat
Australia at Kingsmead in 2002.
took advantage of a let-off on three with the total still the overnight 7/1
when he edged Morne Morkel and Mark Boucher took off too late to have any
chance of making a one-handed take. The ball went through to first slip Graeme
Smith who had virtually no chance of completing the dismissal.
having an aggregate of less than 10 runs for four completed innings in the
Sunfoil Series Sangakkara went on to share important partnerships of 94 off 130
balls with the first innings batting hero, Thilan Samaraweera, and 104 for the
sixth wicket off 163 balls with the impressive debutant, Dinesh Chandimal, who
completed his second half-century of the match.
reached his century off 161 balls with 13 fours. He surprisingly became becalmed
in the final session before holing out to Smith in the deep off the bowling of
Proteas’ attack performed reasonably well considering they had a two-and-a-half
hour afternoon session following the loss of the day’s first hour to rain with
Dale Steyn (3/54 in 16 overs) leading the way.
Lange continued his impressive debut with the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene and
it says much for the threat he offers that he bowled only three balls in his
final spell before the umpires decided conditions were too dangerous for play
are obviously stacked against the Proteas but the ball is firmly in the
batsmens’ court to undo the damage of the first innings. There will have to be
at least two centuries from the top six as there were from Smith and AB de
Villiers in the successful runs chase at Perth.
positive is undoubtedly Smith’s unparalleled record in the history of the game
in chasing down difficult fourth innings totals. He has been involved in five
of South Africa’s top seven and the other two happened well before his time in
1906 and 1950! But he was involved at Kingsmead against Australia (2002, his
second Test match), against New Zealand at Wellington (2004), England at
Edgbaston (2008), Australia at Perth (2008) and Australia at Sahara Park
Newlands (2011). In four of those five fourth innings he made centuries.
will need more of the same again!