The legend of Keshav Maharaj continues to grow.
The Proteas’ No 1 spinner on Friday established a new world record for the best Test figures by a visiting bowler in Sri Lanka after claiming a magnificent 8/116 on the first day of the second and final Test against the hosts in Colombo.
Picked as the only specialist tweaker in the playing XI, the 28-year-old left-armer carried South Africa’s attack splendidly to keep them in the picture.
Sri Lanka ended the opening day on 277/9.
Indeed, he more than compensated for the seamers’ inability to, in particular, bowl a consistent line and kept his cool admirably when the Sri Lankan batters attacked him.
His haul of wickets also represents the 7th best figures by a South African in Tests, narrowly missing out Hugh Tayfield’s 9/113 against England in 1957.
Maharaj is only the third local bowler to claim eight or more wickets in an innings since re-admission in 1992, joining Lance Klusener and Allan Donald.
Best Test figures for South Africa
9/113 – Hugh Tayfield v England, 1957
8/53 – Goofy Lawrence v New Zealand, 1961
8/64 – Lance Klusener v India, 1996
8/69 – Hugh Tayfield v England, 1957
8/70 – Sibley Snooke v England, 1906
8/71 – Allan Donald v Zimbabwe, 1995
8/116 – Keshav Maharaj v Sri Lanka, 2018
He was assisted by a couple of poor shots by the Sri Lankans and had to thank Kagiso Rabada for a cracking, diving catch at deep square leg for his second wicket.
But in general, Maharaj plugged away and was duly rewarded.
Meanwhile, Dale Steyn continued to search for the elusive wicket that would make him the Proteas’ all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests but he went wicket-less in 15 overs.