| Sri Lanka’s Hasantha Fernando takes evasive action to a bouncer from South African captain Shaun Pollock during the second Test in Centurion Tuesday. (AFP)
Centurion: South Africa scrambled to a tense three-wicket win over Sri Lanka on the fifth day of the second and final Test at centurion park Tuesday. The hosts, set to make 121 to win, crashed to 44 for five before Neil McKenzie played a crucial innings of 39 to take his side to within nine runs of victory.
South Africa have won the series 2-0. They won the first Test in Johannesburg by an innings and 64 runs. It was South Africa’s sixth win in seven Tests against Sri Lanka in South Africa.On a dramatic day, 14 wickets fell for 189 runs.
Sri Lankan fast bowler Dilhara Fernando took four wickets in a devastating opening spell. McKenzie and Andrew Hall put on 29 for the sixth wicket before wicketkeeper and vice-captain Mark Boucher helped McKenzie add 39 for the seventh wicket.
As the tension mounted, Sri Lankan fast bowler Chamila Gamage received an official warning from umpire Daryl Harper for walking into McKenzie between overs.
Sri Lanka lost seven wickets for 65 runs Tuesday, collapsing from an overnight 180 for three to be dismissed for 245. Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis both took four wickets.
South Africa took two wickets in the first ten balls of the day to expose the Lankan tail, exactly as South African captain Shaun Pollock had said would be the objective when he spoke to the media last evening.
Ntini struck with the first ball of the day when Mahela Jayawardene was given out leg before for 40 by umpire Russell Tiffin, although the batsman appeared to be outside the line of the stumps when the ball hit his pad.
Ntini took his fourth wicket of the innings and his eighth of the match when Hasantha Fernando hooked him to deep backward square leg. Ntini finished with four for 52.
Kallis took two wickets off successive balls in his first over of the day. He had first innings century-maker Hashan Tillakeratne caught behind off an inside edge after making six runs in 79 minutes, then had Chamila Gamage caught at first slip.
Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando added 36 for the ninth wicket to give the tourists a glimmer of hope.
South Africa lost Graeme Smith leg before to Vaas off the first ball of the innings before Fernando sent the home team crashing to 44 for five by dismissing Herschelle Gibbs, Gary Kirsten, Kallis and Ashwell Prince.
Andrew Hall, promoted from number nine, batted aggressively and scored 16 before he was caught at short leg off Muttiah Muralitharan.
South Africa still needed 48 to win when Boucher joined McKenzie but both batsmen played positively to take their side towards victory.