GALLE, July 19 (AFP): Kumar Sangakkara smashed his 49th half-century as Sri Lanka launched a fightback on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa today.
The prolific left-hander also shared 96 runs for the unbroken second wicket with Kaushal Silva (37) to take Sri Lanka to 110-1 at stumps.
The hosts need 260 runs with nine wickets in hand to pull off a magical come-from-behind win with three full sessions left in the game.
�In a situation like this where you have 90 overs to bat, a win is not guaranteed but there is a chance,� Sri Lankan coach Marvan Atapattu said after the day�s play. �It�s a challenging total but we�ve got a team which is willing to fight.�
Sri Lanka had been forced on the backfoot after they were bowled out for 292 to concede a huge 163-run lead in the first innings.
But a sporting declaration by new South African skipper Hashim Amla at the tea score of 206-6 turned the game on its head.
Although no team has ever scored more than 300 runs in the final innings at Galle, the 36-year-old Sangakkara made a target of 370 look chaseable.
The star batsman hit seven fours and a six in his 58-run knock that came off 89 deliveries.
South Africa began their defence well, with Dale Steyn once again giving his side the early breakthrough by dismissing opener Upul Tharanga for 14.
But Sangakkara stood like a rock at the other end, once despatching a full-toss from Tahir over the mid-wicket fence for a huge six. He completed his half-century in style, sweeping leg-spinner Imran Tahir through midwicket for a four.
Silva also knocked off some easy runs, smacking part-timer Jean-Paul Duminy for two fours in a row.
�Look, they are very much in the contest, there�s no doubt about it. But so are we,� said South African coach Russell Domingo.
�We are set up for a cracker of a day tomorrow (Sunday). If we take two early wickets, we will be right on top of the game.�
South Africa 1st innings 455/5 decl
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 292 all out
South Africa 2nd innings: Elgar c Chandimal b Herath 12, Petersen c Chandimal b Perera 32, F du Plessis b Herath 37, Amla c Tharanga b Perera 22, AB de Villiers b Perera 51, de Kock c & b Perera 36, Duminy not out 8. Extras: (b 4, lb 4) 8. Total: (6 wickets decl; 50.2 overs) 206. Fall of wickets: 1-33, 2-54, 3-88, 4-131, 5-193, 6-206. Bowling: Lakmal 9-0-35-0, Herath 22-2-84-2, Perera 19.2-1-79-4.
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: Tharanga c de Kock b Steyn 14, Silva not out 37, Sangakkara not out 58. Extras: (lb 1) 1. Total: (1 wicket; 32 overs) 110. Fall of wicket: 1-14. Bowling: Steyn 6-2-18-1, Philander 6-3-13-0, Morkel 4-1-13-0, Tahir 10-1 4-0-0, Duminy 5-1-24-0, Elgar 1-0-1-0.