South Africa’s left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj registered career-best figures of 8/116 to help the Proteas halt Sri Lanka at 277/9 on Day 1 of the second Test in Colombo. Maharaj’s figures were the best by a visiting spinner in the island nation. Pakistan’s Imran Khan and West Indies pacer Shannon Gabriel are the only other bowlers to take eight wickets in an innings against Sri Lanka. But none of them occurred in Sri Lanka. Throughout the day, Maharaj bowled 32 overs which included 6 maidens and gave away 116 runs at an economy rate of 3.62.

This was after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first on a surface which seemed on the drier side. The Lankan’s got off to a good start with an opening stand of 100 runs in the first session but it was Maharaj who gave the first breakthrough with Dimuth Karunaratne‘s wicket on 53. Once the openers departed Sri Lanka lost 3 for 37 and 5 for 41 later in the day.

Incidentally, Maharaj did not find any success in the first nine overs that he bowled. But once he got his first wicket there was no looking back for the left-arm orthodox spinner as he cut through the Lankan batting order by removing the first five wickets of the Sri Lankan innings. Roshen Silva was the only batsman who was dismissed by a pacer as all the other batsmen fell to the guile of Maharaj.

Earlier, Maharaj had said that he wanted to learn the tricks of the trade from counterpart Rangana Herath. After his brilliant spell on Friday, the left-armer is one wicket away from bettering Herath’s record (best figures by a left-arm spinner) of 9/127.

Reflecting on his performance Maharaj expressed delight and said that all he is looking forward to is a big meal. “Really, really chuffed. I think it’s nice to get overs under your belt. I didn’t expect so many overs on the sub-continent!” Maharaj said in the post-play TV interview.

“But really happy with the way things go, and obviously happy with the day and how the boys went about their business here today. Right now, I just want to have a nice, massive meal! And get some feet up.”

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