Cape Town – Spluttering on certain cylinders, yet seemingly closing in on another home Test match kill, South Africa could do with Keshav Maharaj coming more significantly into his own at the back end of the Kingsmead clash with Sri Lanka.
There is a strong chance they will complete the first-Test victory job on Saturday’s fourth day’s play, with the tourists a fairly distant 221 runs short of their target of 304, and three wickets down.
So far, it has been a reasonably typical Proteas showing of late: often unconvincing at the crease, but with their remorseless pace arsenal emphatically hiding certain cracks in the collective.
But whatever happens in the remaining day (or possibly still two) in Durban, the second and final contest in Port Elizabeth from next Thursday will be the series fate-decider, and nobody needs reminding that spin could play a more pivotal role at St George’s Park.
If that is the case, it is the ‘Lankans who may just take better heart from it as their left-arm spinner, debutant Lasith Embuldeniya, is likely to be feeling rather more chipper about life right now than his South African frontline counterpart Maharaj.
On Friday, the 22-year-old rookie leapt to the fore with figures of five for 66 – he also bowled more overs, 26, than any visiting seamer – as the Proteas posted another pretty innocuous total of 259 in their second innings.
They owed a major debt of gratitude this time, after Quinton de Kock had monopolised