GALLE, Aug 5 (AFP): South Africa put up a determined effort after Mahela Jayawardene carried Sri Lanka to a big first innings total on the second day of the first Test Thursday.
The visiting side were 82 without loss in repl#y to Sri Lanka's huge 486, which was made possible due to a superb innings of 237 from Jayawardene.
Boeta Dippenaar was batting on 46 and Martin Vaan Jaarsveld on 30 as South Africa made steady progress towards their first target of 287 needed to avoid a follow-on on the slow Galle International Stadium pitch.
The makeshift opening pair easily thwarted the Sri Lankan bowlers led by ace off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who has been barred from bowling his away-going 'doosra' delivery.
Dippenaar and Van Jaarsveld had to open as captain Graeme Smith was down with a viral infection after Herschelle Gibbs had already been ruled out of the match because of an ankle injury.
South African vice-captain Mark Boucher was hoping Smith would come on to bat at the earliest.
"We hope to get him on as soon as possible but we have had a fine start. Now we need to take things session by session," said Boucher. "We have prepared quite a bit for the slow wickets here and hope to make a fight of it."
The South Africans may have prevented Muralitharan from going ahead of Shane Warne, with whom he shares the world record of 527 Test wickets, but the day certainly belonged to Jayawardene.
Jayawardene, 116 overnight, helped Sri Lanka bat out two sessions after resuming at 279-7, and was involved in a crucial stand with Chaminda Vaas (69).
The 27-year-old played shots all over the ground in his second Test double-ton which came in almost nine hours off 415 balls with 25 fours and three sixes.
South Africa's bowlers, who had stuck to a fine line on the first day, could not keep up the good work and were left frustrated as Jayawardene and Vaas accumulated runs with ease without taking undue risks.
Jayawardene got past the 200-run mark with a straight six off left-arm spinner Nicky Boje to move to 205 from 199 and also bettered the previous best of 201 on this venue by captain Marvan Atapattu.
Jayawardene thus kept up a fine record on this ground, where he has hit two big centuries and aggregates over 1100 runs. He had struck identical scores of 167 against South Africa in 2000 and against New Zealand in 1997-98.
The vice-captain added 170 runs for the record eighth-wicket stand with Vaas, improving on Sri Lanka's previous best of 146 by Thilan Samaraweera and Upul Chandana against Zimbabwe here two years ago.
Sri Lanka first innings (overnight 279-7)
M. Atapattu c Boucher b
S. Jayasuriya c Klusener
b Pollock 12
K. Sangakkara c Boucher
b Boje 58
M. Jayawardene lbw
b Hayward 237
T. Samaraweera lbw
b Pollock 13
T. Dilshan b Hayward 25
R. Kaluwitharana b Pollock 33
U. Chandana b Ntini 5
C. Vaas c Hayward b Boje 69
P. Maharoof not out 6
M. Muralitharan b Hayward 0
Extras (b8, lb3, nb6, w2) 19
South Africa first innings
B. Dippenaar not out 46
M. Van Jaarsveld not out 30
Extras (b4, lb2) 6
Total (for no loss) 82