DURBAN, South Africa: Sri Lanka took five South African wickets for just eight runs after lunch to turn the first test around on Friday and give the tourists a chance of an against-the-odds victory.
Sri Lanka bowled the South Africans out for 259 in their second innings after they went to lunch on 227-5 on the third day.
South Africa progressed to 251-5 before the sudden collapse.
Sri Lanka needs 304 to win the match, still a challenging chase. It was 28-0 at tea and the pitch _ tough to bat on through the first two days _ appeared to be easing.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Ambuldeniya prompted South Africa’s collapse and finished with 5-66 in the second innings and six wickets in the match on his test debut. Seamer Vishwa Fernando had 4-71 and eight in the match in just his fourth test.
They shared the five wickets after lunch as Sri Lanka’s inexperienced bowling lineup gave its team a chance to take the lead in the two-test series. That would end South Africa’s run of seven straight series wins at home.
Ambuldeniya started things by bowling Vernon Philander for 18. Fernando snared the crucial wicket of captain Faf du Plessis, lbw for 90.
South Africa’s last four wickets went down in less than four overs.
Earlier, du Plessis and Quinton de Kock put on 96 for the fifth wicket as South Africa appeared to take control. Ambuldeniya broke that partnership as well.
Ambuldeniya is one of two Sri Lankans on debut at Kingsmead. The tourists also have a new captain in Dimuth Karunaratne and few people gave them a chance in South Africa.
Sri Lanka has lost its last three series while South Africa’s 3-0 sweep against Pakistan last month continued a three-year winning streak in test series at home.