Durban: Thilan Samaraweera and new cap Dinesh Chandimal shared a century partnership as Sri Lanka made a strong recovery on the first day of the second Test match at Kingsmead on Monday.
Sri Lanka finished the day on 289 for seven, with Samaraweera (86 not out) and Chandimal (58) adding 111 for the sixth wicket after Marchant de Lange, South Africa's new fast bowler, had ripped out three of Sri Lanka's leading batsmen. De Lange took another wicket in the last over of the day when he had Thisara Perera caught at short leg to finish with four for 60 in his first day in Test cricket.
De Lange, 21, who received a late call-up after Vernon Philander was ruled out by a knee injury, had Sri Lanka in trouble at 162 for five on a good batting pitch after dismissing Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews.
But De Lange's efforts on a hot, humid day were stymied by Samaraweera and Chandimal.
Samaraweera made a bright start but scored only 23 runs between lunch and tea as he settled into an anchor role. He made his 86 runs off 218 balls with ten fours.
Samaraweera was caught and bowled by leg-spinner Imran Tahir when he was on 50 but gained a reprieve when Tahir was no-balled. He also survived a stumping chance to Mark Boucher off Tahir when he had 63.
Chandimal, 22, justified the decision of the tour selectors to pick him as wicketkeeper ahead of Kaushal Silva because of his superior batting skills.
Strong on the cut, he was not afraid to go for his shots in an 86-ball innings which included seven fours.
Chandimal was also handed a reprieve when De Lange failed to pull down a leaping catch at mid-on off Tahir when he had 25.
But the second new ball was Chandimal's undoing as he flashed wildly at a short, lifting delivery from Morne Morkel to be caught behind by Boucher.
Veteran Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene became the ninth batsman and first Sri Lankan to reach 10,000 runs in Test cricket when he opened his scoring with a single. The 34-year-old made 31 before he was bowled by Morkel.
The tall, strongly-built De Lange had opening batsman Paranavitana caught behind by Boucher for 12 with his 12th ball in Test cricket. He followed up two balls into his next over when Sangakkara was caught behind for nought.
In mid-afternoon De Lange ended a promising fifth-wicket stand of 45 between Samaraweera and Mathews when he held a sharp, right-handed return catch to dismiss Mathews for 30.
Before Philander's injury, De Lange was due to be released to play for the Titans franchise in a domestic first-class match.
De Lange was brought into the attack after six overs and immediately impressed with his ability to generate pace and lift.
He drew Paranavitana into a drive against a full length delivery after sending down several short balls, then forced Sangakkara into a hurried jab against a fast ball just outside his off stump.
Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan backed up his decision to bat first on an even-paced pitch with some aggressive strokes at the start of the innings but was forced to become more circumspect after losing his first two partners.
He made 47 off 69 balls with six fours before hitting a full toss from Tahir to Morkel at fine leg.