Unlike justice, victory delayed is not victory denied, and SA will surely wrap up their win over Sri Lanka at Newlands
If, by some miracle, the Lankans force the second Test into a fifth day, SA should still win. Anything else would be an injustice to a home side who have outplayed their opponents.
So there was a feeling of water being treaded when stumps were drawn on Wednesday, the third day, with the visitors on 130/4, still 377 runs away from their target
SA have been winners in waiting since Tuesday, when they reached the close 317 runs ahead — more than enough, probably. They threw another 189 runs onto the pile before the declaration came 45 minutes before tea in an innings that has left questions hanging in the air like the smoke from the bush fires that have ravished the region during these hot,
Two of the batsmen who could use time in the middle under minimal pressure, Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma, were dismissed for ducks. That means they have gone 10 and six Test innings without reaching 50.
Another, JP Duminy, scored 30. His past seven innings,
then, have yielded only one
But there will be satisfaction that the lower middle order pulled their weight, what with the last three partnerships adding 87 runs to the total.
That done the bowlers were tossed the ball and told to get on with it in 32°C heat and on a pitch that was at its best for batting. Happily, then, SA enjoy the services of some of the best in the game and they duly did as instructed to reduce the Lankans to 69/4 before Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal stopped the slide.
Vernon Philander struck the first blow 13 balls before tea by bowling Dimuth Karunaratne with a delivery that pitched on middle, took the inside edge, and nailed leg stump.
Philander then had the hard-driving Kusal Mendis caught at third slip before Kaushal Silva fended a brutish bouncer from Kagiso Rabada to short leg.
In his next over Rabada trapped Dhananjaya de Silva in front with a delivery that would have missed leg stump.
De Silva seemed to leave without challenging the decision on the advice of his captain, Mathews, who watched it all from the other end of the pitch.
Or maybe he just wanted out of there.
It was that kind of afternoon for the Lankans.
They knew they had little hope of occupying the crease for the rest of the match and even less chance of winning it.
And they were facing one of the better attacks in the game.
That is as tough an ask as cricket can pose, but Mathews and Chandimal tried their damnedest to answer it.
By stumps their unbroken stand was worth 61, the visitors’ biggest partnership of the match and their only 50 stand.
Mathews was 29 not out with Chandimal on 28. Together they batted for 63 minutes and faced 88 balls.
That is a fine effort, but it will have to be exponentially better if they are to deny SA the justice of victory.