South Africa lost Aiden Markram on Sunday as they chased a highly improbable 490 to win the second Test and avoid their first series defeat to Sri Lanka since 2006.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath dismissed Markram lbw for 14 in a hectic 12 overs before tea on the third day of the second Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo.
The hosts dropped two straightforward catches, had a dismissal overturned and burned both their reviews, off consecutive balls, before South Africa went into the break on 42 for 1.
Opener Dean Elgar was bowled by Dilruwan Perera for six before being called back after replays showed a no-ball. He survived to 13 not out, alongside Theunis de Bruyn, unbeaten on eight.
Having skittled out the visitors for 124 in their first innings and secured a 214-run lead, the hosts earlier declared on 275 for five.
South Africa’s bowlers toiled for 47 overs on Sunday to dismiss just the overnight pair of Dimuth Karunaratne — caught behind for 85 off fast bowler Lungi Ngidi — and Angelo Mathews.
The latter became Keshav Maharaj’s 12th wicket of the match.
There was no joy for Dale Steyn, who will have to wait until the next Test series against Zimbabwe in September and October — if picked — to overtake Shaun Pollock as the Proteas’ leading Test wicket-taker.
Steyn has been tied with Pollock on 421 dismissals since the first Test last week in Galle, won by Sri Lanka within three days.
© Agence France-Presse