Cape Town - A first innings’ lead of 341 gave the South Africans little option but to enforce the follow-on, said seam bowler Vernon Philander in Cape Town on Thursday.
"The wicket will deteriorate a bit more, but with such a big lead we had to make them follow on," said the 26 year-old who took three for 46 in Sri Lanka’s first innings and picked up one in the second.
"We will try and bowl them out as quickly as possible but, by making them follow on, we have to be clever with our bowling." Philander said they were lucky to have leg-spinner Imran Tahir to hold up one end while the seamers could bowl in short spells from the other, keeping their legs fresh.
The third-day began with Sri Lanka resuming their first innings on 149 for two, in the third and final Test against South Africa, and Philander said the early wicket of Kumar Sangakkara gave them hope on a tough wicket, which favoured the batsmen.
The visitors lost their key man when Dale Steyn struck with the third ball of the morning.
"Wickets always set the tone of the day so picking up Sangakkara so early definitely gave the bowlers more oomph," Philander said.
"It was a big boost and definitely set the tone right there."
The visitors had collapsed to 239 all out shortly after lunch and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan had to open the batting for the second time in less than 24 hours.
In only the fourth over, Dilshan (5) got a nick to Philander and was caught behind, failing to give his side the foundation they so badly needed.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Sangakkara looked to stabilise the situation and added 67 runs off 157-balls.
Thirimanne (30) was a little unlucky to get a faint edge, which flicked his pad and flew to Hashim Amla at short-leg.
It was the first reversal of an umpire’s decision in the match after the South Africans asked for a review as the batsman was originally given not out.
Sangakkara’s wicket was more memorable for Tahir’s extravagant celebrations than for the ball which was edged to Kallis at lone slip.
"There’s no stopping Imran, he just loves the crowd and the attention," Philander said.
"Imran is growing in confidence as he gets to bowl more overs and we’re all very happy for him."
In response to those who expressed surprise when skipper Graeme Smith brought himself on to bowl (2-0-7-0), Philander said he was equally surprised at the time.
"I don’t think you were the only one who was nervous when Graeme came on to bowl," joked Philander.
"We tried to scuff up the ball a bit to get the ball to reverse so that was probably the main reason behind it."
Mahela Jayawardene disappointed once again with his 12 runs off 21-balls in the second innings.
He wasted his wicket attempting to play at a delivery from Morne Morkel which would have been best left alone. Instead, the ball caught the edge of the bat and flew to Kallis at second slip, who held on to a difficult catch.
Jayawardene never got going in the three Tests against South Africa.
His scores of 30, 15, 31, 14, 30 and 12 proved indifferent for a batsman who is one of only six in the world to have scored over 10 000 runs in both Tests and one-day internationals.
Sri Lanka then found themselves at 138 for four at stumps requiring another 204 runs to avoid an innings defeat.
Thilan Samaraweera was unbeaten on 19 and Angelo Mathews on 28.
"If we bowl and do our processes right, it always gives us the opportunity to strike," Philander said.
"So, once we get passed Chandimal at seven, we won’t find much resistance in the tail."