Cook, Philander put South Africa on top at Port Elizabeth
South Africa 286 & 381-5 (Cook 117) v
Sri Lanka 205 (Philander 5-45)
First Test, Port Elizabeth, day three
Vernon Philander picked his 11th Test career five wicket haul followed by Stephen Cook's third Test career hundred put South Africa on top of the Port Elizabeth Test as the hosts have taken a decisive 432 runs lead at close of day three's play.
Earlier in the day, the visitors kept losing wickets in regular interval to hand out a decent 81-run lead in the first innings. The hosts then batted well to continue the momentum in their favor as opening pair of Cook and Dean Elgar followed by Hashim Amla made sure the Proteas took the honors for day three.
Sri Lanka started the day already in trouble with seven wickets down for just 181 runs on the board. The overnight pair of Dhananjaya de Silva (43) and Dushmantha Chameera (19) continued the procession towards the pavilion as the partnership couldn't even last one ball on day three.
Philander (5-45) dismissed de Silva caught behind on the very first delivery of the day. Suranga Lakmal (4) ended up giving a simple catch to Kyle Abbott at mid on in the very same over.
Nuwan Pradeep (8) alone with Chameera added 20 runs for the final wicket to help Sri Lanka linger past 200 runs on the scoreboard.
Abbott (3-63) wrapped up the Lankan innings as Chameera gave a simple catch to Amla at first slips.
Cook and Elgar (52) ensured the home team did not lose any advantage with a 116-run opening stand. Elgar completed his 4th Test career fifty before getting dismissed on the bowling of Lakmal (1-57).
Amla (48) carried on the foundation laid by the opening pair by constructing a 105 runs partnership with Cook.
Cook completed his 100 from 152 balls and shortly after Amla got out to Pradeep (1-65) just two short of a deserving fifty.
Just as a partnership was developing between Cook and Jean-Paul Duminy, Chameera (1-63) struck to dismiss Cook caught behind.
Shortly after Cook's departure, Duminy too got out on 25 after handing a simple catch to Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews at slip off de Silva's bowling.
de Silva (2-74) struck once again to dismiss Temba Bavuma (8) who edged it to Kusal Mendis at short leg.
Quinton de Kock (42 no) and South African skipper Faf du Plessis (41 not out) with an unbeaten 74-run partnership stand for the sixth wicket stopped the free-fall as well as ensured the lead extended past 400 runs to kill any budding hopes for the visitors to dream of a comeback in the Test match.
With two days play remaining in this Test match, we can expect South Africa to safely win this match.
Sri Lanka although can take a leaf out of Pakistan's fightback against Australia in Brisbane and play their level best attacking cricket to put some life back into this match instead of giving into a tame surrender.
© Cricket World 2016