SAvSL

South Africa need five wickets on Friday to secure victory in the first test after Sri Lanka provided dogged resistance and were 240 for five at stumps on the fourth day at St George’s Park on Thursday.

Kusal Mendis and captain Angelo Mathews both scored half centuries as Sri Lanka, having been set a mammoth target of 488 to win, kept alive hopes of saving the test.

They need 248 to win but survival, rather than chasing the runs, had been Sri Lanka’s primary objective and despite a barrage of fast bowling they stymied home hopes of wrapping up the result in four days.

South Africa declared 50 minutes into the fourth day on 406-6 with a massive lead. They were already 432 runs ahead when they resumed on 351-5 but, with captain Faf du Plessis and De Kock approaching half-centuries, they carried on batting and accumulated runs easily, even against the new ball.

The pair shared in a match-high 129-run partnership before the declaration came after De Kock was trapped leg before wicket by Rangana Herath for 69. Du Plessis remained 67 not out.

South Africa, who won the toss and opted to bat, amassed 286 runs in their first innings and Sri Lanka scored 205 in reply.

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