Sri Lanka take control of 1st Test in South Africa

Sri Lanka take control of 1st Test in South Africa

De Silva retired hurt on 79 with what appeared to be a left hip injury sustained when he ran for a quick single

Sri Lanka's Dhananjaya de Silva (R) is helped off the field by medical staff after being injured during the first day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Credit: AFP.

Sri Lanka took early control of the first Test in South Africa on Saturday through a 131-run partnership between Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal that was only interrupted when de Silva had to leave with an injury.

De Silva retired hurt on 79 with what appeared to be a left hip injury sustained when he ran for a quick single about half an hour before tea on the first day.

But his dashing half-century and the support of Chandimal (50 not out) revived Sri Lanka from 54-3 after the tourists chose to bat first at SuperSport Park.

Sri Lanka ended the second session on a highly promising 212-3, with Niroshan Dickwella (11 not out) replacing de Silva in the middle.

De Silva's departure on a medical golf cart robbed Sri Lanka of some of its momentum but the tourists were still well on top in the first of two tests. They had added 110 runs to their total after lunch without losing a wicket and were going at an impressive run rate of 4.07 an over.

De Silva hit 11 fours and a six and justified Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne's decision to back his batting order and bat first at a ground that traditionally favors fast bowlers.

South Africa's quick bowlers removed Karunaratne for 22 and then Kusal Mendis (12) and Kusal Perera (16) in successive overs before lunch but had no more success in the first four hours of play.

Both teams are playing their first test in nearly a year after they had series called off because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Sri Lanka appeared to have found its feet first.

Karunaratne's team is also emboldened by the fact that it became the first Asian team to win a test series in South Africa when it shocked everyone to take a two-match series 2-0 last year.

South Africa's attack is missing strike bowler Kagiso Rabada for this test because of injury and the Proteas selected Lutho Sipamla for his debut to fill that hole.

Sipamla had 0-56 off nine overs and struggled on his first day in test cricket. Fellow seamers Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Wiaan Mulder had one wicket each but none of them were overly impressive on a pitch South African quick bowlers normally thrive on.

Quinton de Kock had much to consider in his first match as South Africa's test captain.

It's the first test series in South Africa in nearly a year and also puts the country's Covid-19 protocols on trial after a one-day series against England was called off this month because of an outbreak of virus cases in the teams' hotel in Cape Town.

This series is being played in Centurion, near Pretoria, and Johannesburg.