Yet another ten-wicket haul for Muttiah Muralitharan
Sri Lanka's highest run chase in Test cricket has been 326 against Zimbabwe Ntini pulled a hamstring and was restricted to just two overs after lunch
COLOMBO: Mahela Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 77 to take Sri Lanka within 90 runs of victory in the second cricket Test and a series sweep against South Africa.
Set 352 to win, the host ended the fourth day at 262 for five on Monday, leaving three sessions and five wickets to achieve the 90 runs required.
The Sri Lanka captain has so far added 61 for the sixth wicket in the company of Prasanna Jayawardene, with the wicketkeeper-batsman contributing 27 runs.
South Africa missed a chance to dismiss Jayawardene on two when he edged an Andrew Hall delivery to gully. But Herschelle Gibbs, one of the safest fielders in the team, failed to hold on.
It was a major reprieve for Sri Lanka. As long as he remains at the crease, Sri Lanka has a great chance of winning.
Sri Lanka's highest run chase in Test cricket so far has been 326 against Zimbabwe at the Sinhalese Sports Club in 1997.
South Africa resumed on Monday at 257 for seven and added 54 before Mark Boucher's rearguard innings finished at 65.
South African coach Mickey Arthur indicated that the game may have slipped away from his side a bit.
``We thought 350 was a good target to give them, but maybe we are 30-40 runs short at the end,'' he said. ``But the new ball is due after eight overs and if we can take a wicket early that'll open up things for us and we'll be in the game.''
Despite losing opening partner Upul Tharanga for a duck, veteran Sanath Jayasuriya started the chase aggressively for Sri Lanka with 73 from 74 balls.
The 37-year-old left-hander, who recently reversed his decision to retire from Test cricket, took the attack to the South African bowlers reaching his 30th Test half-century in style by hoisting veteran paceman Shaun Pollock for a big six.
He added a quick 82 for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara.
Pollock hit back by breaking the partnership with the total at 94, but Sri Lanka suffered a big blow when Jayasuriya was dismissed. Left-arm spinner Nicky Boje turned one from the rough and the ball brushed the batsman's glove, giving Hashim Amla a sharp catch at short-leg.
Earlier, off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan completed his 56th five-wicket haul when he picked up the last three South African wickets. He took seven for 97 and ended with 12 wickets, the 18th time he has taken 10 wickets or more in a Test match.