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Even-steven after Day 3
06 Aug 2006
By: Sudeep Popat

A 92 by Herschelle Gibbs and four wickets for Muttiah Muralitharan meant that the second Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Colombo has been left hanging right in the balance at the end of Day 3's play.

Powered by Gibbs's return to form, the Proteas reached 257 for 7 at stumps, 297 runs ahead of the hosts after they had taken a 40-run first innings lead. Muralitharan didn't allow the visitors to get away with it though, picking up wickets at regular intervals, thus keeping Sri Lanka in the race too. At stumps, Mark Boucher and Nicky Boje were at the crease, the later at 28, being the only hopes for South Africa to increase their lead by quite a few runs.

Gibbs was one of Muralitharan's victims, when he fell just before tea. The off-spinner's other victims included Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers and Shaun Pollock, all of whom were the stars of the first innings.

Muralitharan now has nine wickets in the match, just one short of making it to 10 for the match, thus to equal his own record of four consecutive 10 wickets per match haul. With the South African tail being exposed to him now, it is very likely that he will add this achievement to his bag of records.

South Africa began the day at 6-0, and continued well, with Gibbs blasting the bowling in the first session. In fact, just the one wicket, that of Andrew Hall for 32, was lost before lunch. However, after lunch two wickets tumbled cheaply, thus putting added pressure on Gibbs, who ultimately succumbed too.

Jacques Rudolph and Hashim Amla were the two wickets to fall before Gibb's dismissal, both run out just as they were trying to get settled in. Gibbs himself top-edged a sweep, off Muralitharan, to Sanath Jayasuriya at short fine leg. The flow of runs was stemmed following the wickets, especially during Farveez Maharoof's spell just after tea, for which he was ultimately rewarded with the wickets of Prince and de Villiers.

South Africa 361
AB de Villiers 95, Ashwell Prince 86, Shaun Pollock 57*
Muttiah Muralitharan 5-128, Lasith Malinga 3-81

Sri Lanka 321
Chaminda Vaas 64, Chamara Kapugedera 63, Farveez Maharoof 56
Dale Steyn 5-82, Makhaya Ntini 4-84

South Africa 257-7
Herschelle Gibbs 92, AB de Villiers 33, Andrew Hall 32
Muttiah Muralitharan 4-86

South Africa lead by 297 runs with three second innings wickets in hand.

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