South Africa 180-1 in strong counter to Sri Lanka's 396

South Africa 180-1 in strong response to Sri Lanka's 396

Markram and Elgar cashed in, with Markram striking 14 fours in his 68 from 94 balls before Vishwa Fernando removed him off a thick edge to Shanaka

 Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (C) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of unseen South Africa's captain Quinton de Kock during the second day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park in Centurion on December 27, 2020. Credit: AFP Photo

South Africa's opening batsmen put on a partnership of 141 and the Proteas were 180-1 in a strong response to Sri Lanka's 396 in the first test on Sunday.

Aiden Markram was out for 68 to give Sri Lanka's bowling attack a much-needed boost after it was depleted by injury and looked set to struggle at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

Dean Elgar, the other South African opener, had moved to 86 not out by tea on the second day. Rassie van der Dussen was with him on 8.

The momentum of the match had started to shift after Sri Lanka had the best of the first day-and-a-half. The tourists' 396 all out after opting to bat first was their best total in a test in South Africa.

It was built on 85 from Dinesh Chandimal, 79 from Dhananjaya de Silva and a forceful 66 not out from Dasun Shanaka at No. 7, who hammered five sixes in his first test half-century and made sure Sri Lanka's hard work with the bat on the first day wasn't wasted on the second. He propelled his team to the brink of 400 with some big blows on the second morning before they were all out before lunch.

South Africa seamer Lutho Sipamla, who had struggled on the first day of his test debut on Saturday, had all three of the Sri Lankan wickets on Sunday to wrap up the tail and improve his figures to 4-76.

But Sri Lanka, after a highly promising batting performance, had major problems with its bowling attack.

Allrounder de Silva was forced to retire hurt while batting on Saturday with a left thigh injury that looks certain to rule him out of the rest of this game and possibly the remainder of the two-test series. His off spin bowling is a key part of the Sri Lankan attack.

Fast bowler Kasun Rajitha then pulled up having bowled just 13 deliveries in South Africa's first innings. He hobbled off the field with what appeared to be a groin problem.

Markram and Elgar cashed in, with Markram striking 14 fours in his 68 from 94 balls before Vishwa Fernando removed him off a thick edge to Shanaka.

Elgar carried on and South Africa, scoring fast and free just like Sri Lanka did, was just 216 runs behind with nine wickets in hand and going at nearly five runs an over.