Dean Elgar on the first day, salvaged South Africa, firing up their score to 297 in 90 overs. Sri Lanka won the toss and gave out the pitch to the hosts, which the team utilized fully dominating the batsmen for the morning sessions. Sri Lanka, was successful to build up a pressure on South Africa taking down its batsmen one after another. South Africa lost five wickets in 169 when Temba Bavuma was removed by the afternoon session. For Elgar, the inning brought his sixth Test century, remaining in the crease until the evening. The day ended with Quinton de Kock and Kyle Abbott on the crease partnering at 68 and 16 respectively.
South Africa lost Alastair Cook in the first over. The opener ducked out being caught at the delivery from Suranga Lakmal. Elgar was playing alongside Hashim Amla taking the score to run pass the 50 mark, when the team faced the next round of attacks. In the over from Lahiru Kumara, two prominent wickets of the team were dismissed. It was in the 23rd over when Amla was bowled in the first ball, while Duminy was dismissed in the last. With the wickets, South Africa was at 66 for 3. Amla scored 29 off 68 balls he played and Duminy got the second duck of the inning.
After the strike, Faf du Plessis and Elgar sustained the inning for more than 25 overs, hauling the score to a three-digit figure. Skipper Faf du Plessis contributed 38 runs into the tally. He was taken at slip by Mathews, as he edged the delivery from Rangana Herath. The run rate was slow, Elgar steadily moving forward to his century along with Bavuma. Meanwhile, right after the 60th over, Kumara struck down Bavuma giving out the wicket tally of 5 to South Africa. Until the moment there were no signs of revival for the team.
The stretch shared by Quinton de Kock and Elgar was the most returning for South Africa. It was the sixth wicket stand that brought 103 runs to the tally moving together for 24 overs. Elgar had his century off 186 balls smashing 12 fours for the figure. He played till 85 overs scoring a total of 129 in the inning. The score was 272 for 6 when the batsman returned from the pitch. De Kock, survived several appeals as well as catches to reach his half century. By the end of the day, he played around five overs with Kyle Abbott. Scoring 68 off 90 balls, he smashed 7 fours. Kyle Abbott was playing hastily to score 16 off 21 with 3 fours within a short while before the last ball of the day.
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