File: South Africa's Kagiso Rabada.
At the close of play, South Africa were 4/1 and trailing by 283 runs.
At one stage it looked as though South Africa were holding an overwhelmingly strong position when they had the home side 176/8 shortly after the tea interval, but opening batsman Dalmuth Karunaratne rallied tail-end support to see the last two wickets add 111 to the total and give Sri Lanka a much more competitive total.
File: South Africa&39;s Kagiso Rabada (R) celebrates with teammates after dismissing Sri Lanka&39;s batsman Angelo Mathews (not pictured) during the first day of the opening Test match between Sri Lanka and South Africa at the Galle International Cricket Stadium. Credit: Lukruwan Wanniarachchi/ AFP
Karunaratne became the fourth Sri Lankan to carry his bat in a magnificent inning of 158 not out (222 balls, 13 fours and a six). It was his eighth Test century and the fourth time he has made more than 150.
Sri Lanka then completed an excellent session by taking the wicket of Aiden Markram in the four overs South Africa had to face before the close.
Rabada moved smoothly back into Test match mode after an extended break to recover from his back strain and was always a threat in his 14 overs.
South Africa included Tabraiz Shamsi as a fifth specialist bowler as they continued the attacking approach that has been the hallmark of Ottis Gibson’s reign as coach.
The wrist spinner had an excellent day with a career best return of 3/91 in 25.4 overs.
The first 20 of those overs came in a single spell and for a long time, in addition to the wickets he took, he conceded little more than two runs to the over.
He came on to bowl at 67/1 after 18 overs and, when he was rested, Sri Lanka had slumped to 211/8 in 57 which was a clear indication of his value.
Karunaratne was the only Sri Lanka batsman to pick his varieties with confidence.
By blocking one end he enabled Faf du Plessis to launch a short-pitch attack from the other end by Rabada and the returning Dale Steyn (1/54).
Stumps, Day 1: SA 4/1 after 4 overs. Elgar 4*, Maharaj 0*, trail by 283. Last wicket: Markram 0.— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) July 12, 2018
SL 287. Rabada 4/50, Shamsi 3/91, Philander 1/28, Steyn 1/54. SLvSA ProteaFire pic.twitter.com/r6uPlFI142