BULLDOZER: Kagiso Rabada. Photo: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGEPIX

The Proteas are in the driving seat after Day One of their first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. 

And the man pushing down hard on the accelerator is fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. 

With all the talk leading up to the match being about Dale Steyn overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker, and of the spin bowlers making an impact on the slow wickets of the subcontinent, it was Rabada (4/50) that stole the show with four wickets.

Proteas coach Ottis Gibson entered the match with two spin bowlers, selecting both Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. 

While the latter was more successful than Maharaj with three scalps, it was Rabada that the hosts had the most trouble with. 

After winning the toss, Sri Lanka opted to bat first and got off to a decent start with openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Dimuth Karunaratne scoring 44 for the first wicket. 

Dimuth Karunaratne. Photo: KAMRAN JEBREILI/AP

Rabada struck first when he had Gunathilaka (26) caught behind by Quinton de Kock. 

Dhananjaya de Silva (11) was then clean bowled by Shamsi for his first wicket, before Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis took Sri Lanka to 115/2.

But when Mendis was caught off the bowling of Steyn by Rabada, Sri Lanka started to crumble and went from 115/2 to 119/5. 

And it was all thanks to Rabada, who had Angelo Mathews caught behind for one and then removed Roshen Silva two balls later, caught by Aiden Markram for a duck. 

Karunaratne, though, spoiled the day for the visitors as he carried his bat for a superb unbeaten 158.

At the other end of the pitch, though, he lacked support.

And when Niroshan Dickwella became Shamsi’s second victim – caught by Hashim Amla – the last of Sri Lanka’s recognised batsmen were out with their score on 161.

Running out of partners, Karunaratne upped the run rate and added some valuable runs for the hosts towards the end of their innings along with No.11 Lakshan Sandakan (25) as they added 63 for the 10th wicket to guide Sri Lanka to a respectable 287 all out.

South Africa’s reply, meanwhile, couldn’t have gotten off to a worst start when they lost Aiden Markram for a duck to end the day on 4/1. 

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