PORT ELIZABETH – Stephen Cook hit an unbeaten century as South Africa moved into a powerful position on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at St George s Park on Wednesday.
South Africa were 221 for two at tea, an overall lead of 302 on a ground where no team has successfully chased more than 271 in the fourth innings.
Cook (108 not out) and Dean Elgar (52) shared their second opening century-partnership of the match as South Africa built on their first innings lead of 81.
The pair put on 116 for the first wicket, 12 more than their partnership in the first innings.
Hashim Amla joined Cook after Elgar was dismissed and played some sparkling strokes as he made 48 in a second wicket stand of 105 off 118 balls before he was out off the last delivery before tea.
After two interruptions for rain, the playing hours were changed and South Africa scored 182 runs off 40 overs in an extended post-lunch period during which the Sri Lankan bowling and fielding was unimpressive.
Cook, who made his third century in only seven Tests, survived a chance to gully off Suranga Lakmal when he was on 62, but played with more freedom than in previous appearances. He reached his fifty off 81 balls and his hundred off 152 deliveries with ten fours.
Sri Lanka were bowled out early in the day for 205, with Vernon Philander taking five for 45, losing their last three wickets for 24 runs.
Philander struck twice in the first over of the day after Sri Lanka resumed at 181 for seven. His first ball was a perfect out-swinger which Dhananya de Silva edged to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
De Silva had batted impressively to make 43 on Tuesday but Philander made the ball deviate just enough to catch the edge as De Silva played back defensively.
Lakmal hit a boundary but then chipped the final ball of the over to Kyle Abbott at mid-on. – (AFP)