South African spinner Keshav Maharaj took three top-order Sri Lankan wickets on day one of the second Test after Sri Lanka started strongly on Friday.
Maharaj struck with his left-arm spin to break a 116-run opening stand between openers Danushka Gunathilaka, who scored 57, and Dimuth Karunaratne, who made 53, on a seemingly turning Colombo pitch.
Sri Lanka, who won the opening Test in Galle last week, elected to bat in its bid to clinch the two-match series. Dhanajaya de Silva, on 19, and Angelo Mathews, on 10 were batting at the break.
Gunathilaka and Karunaratne mixed caution and aggression to keep the South African bowling attack at bay as they moved to 93-0 at lunch.
The left-handed batting duo reached their respective half-centuries just after lunch but fell to Maharaj’s guile soon after.
Maharaj, the team’s only regular spinner, got Karunaratne caught behind with a drifting delivery down the leg side. He got Gunathilaka in his very next over.
Paceman Dale Steyn though will probably have to wait for another session to get past former teammate Shaun Pollock to become the country’s leading wicket taker in Tests. He is tied with Pollock’s 421 wickets.
Late in the session, Mathews became the ninth Sri Lanka batsman to complete 5,000 runs in Tests, when he edged Lungi Ngidi to the third man boundary.
The hosts, led by Suranga Lakmal, are without regular captain Dinesh Chandimal, who is suspended for the series over a ball tampering charge. Coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha have also been banned over the case.