Dimuth Karunaratne ploughed a lone furrow for Sri Lanka as South Africa took charge on the opening day of the first Test in Galle.
The opener carried his bat on Thursday as the hosts struggled to find any rhythm after opting to make their opponents bowl, Karunaratne finishing 158 not out as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 287.
Plenty of his partners made starts but could not push on, and Sri Lanka's total would have been even less competitive had last man Lakshan Sandakan not added a timely 25.
Kagiso Rabada proved South Africa's main threat with 4-50, while there was also a wicket for the returning Dale Steyn.
Left-arm chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi contributed 3-91 in his second outing as Sri Lanka toiled, only the impressive Karunaratne scoring big on a pitch that is expected to turn more and more as the game goes on.
Sri Lanka finished the day on a high, though, as Rangana Herath took advantage of the early spin to remove Aiden Markram before the close, South Africa finishing 4-1 at the beginning of their reply.
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
The initial signs looked positive for Sri Lanka as Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka made a steady start, only for Rabada to find a beautiful line outside off stump to have the latter caught behind.
Dhananjaya de Silva helped push the score on to 70-1 but four quick wickets saw the hosts slump to 119-5 – Rabada and Steyn doing the damage as the Proteas' seamers found a good length.
Karunaratne kept his patient, watchful innings ticking over while panic ensued around him, bringing up his half century off 82 balls with a quick single.
He survived a scare soon after as Markram dropped him at short leg, and slowly pushed towards an eighth Test century.
A straight drive to the boundary off Shamsi took Karunaratne to three figures but by then Sri Lanka were eight wickets down and facing an uphill struggle to post a credible total.
The Karunaratne show! @IamDimuth carries his bat with 158*, the fourth Sri Lankan to do so in Test cricket, as the hosts are dismissed for 287 on day one in Galle.#SLvSA scorecard https://t.co/iKZgIHlw9a pic.twitter.com/XdTawzE1Hg— ICC (@ICC) July 12, 2018
Stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal and Sandakan gave him much-needed support for the final two wickets, Sri Lanka adding 63 as Karunaratne reached 150 for the fourth time in his career.
Eventually Sri Lanka's resistance came to an end as Shamsi had Sandakan stumped, but it left South Africa with a tricky four-over spell to navigate.
Markram was unable to do so as Herath drew him forward and found an edge that Angelo Matthews gobbled up at slip, but it was a rare disappointment on a productive day for the tourists.
16 de julio 2018
|Froome plays down Thomas battle for Sky supremacy|
|Carnoustie record counts for little at The Open, says Fleetwood|
|I don´t see it - Napoli chief De Laurentiis plays down talk of Callejon-Suso swap|
|One or two changes required at Chelsea, says Sarri|
|Monaco confirm Golovin approach|
|Let´s keep making noise! - Serena dedicates Wimbledon run to fellow mothers|
|Full list of Open tee times|
|Fakhar inspires another big Pakistan ODI win|
|Spieth ´annoyed´ by re-watch of 13th hole|
|Kaka claims Ronaldo arrival will boost all Italian clubs|
|Spieth vows to be more artist than tactician in Open defence|
|Conte thanks Chelsea players, staff and fans|
|Rodgers: I´d love to play with the Packers to 40|
|Sevilla insist N´Zonzi will cost €40m|
|Hugill shows mystic powers with accurate World Cup predictions|
|World Cup 2018: FARE ready for post-tournament challenges in Russia|
|Woods grouped with Matsuyama and Knox at Open|
|Matthaus questions idea of French dynasty|
|Chandimal, Sri Lanka coach and manager banned for two Tests and four ODIs|
|Sassuolo demand at least €30m for Berardi|
|French media revels in ´crazy´ triumph|
|Mafi released on bail after alleged assault|
|Bierhoff must go! Berthold calls for Germany changes|
|Joshua to fight Povetkin in September|
|World Cup 2018: Goal-laden final adds to staggering World Cup stats|
|Runners and Ryders: Molinari impresses again as stars prepare for The Open|
|Macron to greet France team after Champs Elysees parade|
|Casillas and Suarez critical of VAR after World Cup final|
|TMO protocol clearly not working, says SANZAAR|
|Americans seek joy of six at Carnoustie, Rose out to end wretched run - The Open in Opta facts|
|Ronaldo arrives in Turin for Juventus medical|
|Stone: I had no idea what my score was!|
|The Open: A look back at Van de Velde´s Carnoustie calamity|
|Rakitic proud of ´brother´ Modric´s Golden Ball award|
|Serena can surpass Court, but Graf was the real target - Krajicek|
|Ronaldo moved to remain motivated - Kaka|
|Silva confident on Everton transfer targets|
|Golden Boot winner Kane aims to break August hoodoo|
|NFL training camp 2018: Contract holdouts and where they stand|
|Guardiola took me to another level - Alaba|
|Madrid selling Ronaldo a ´historic error´ - Calderon|
|MLS Review: LAFC, Atlanta held at home|
|Stones will watch re-runs of England´s World Cup matches|
|Ferdinand challenges Mourinho to unleash Pogba at United|
|Mbappe: I´m staying at PSG|
|Former NHL goalie Ray Emery found dead|
|Pirates secure five-game sweep of Brewers with walk-off win|
|WATCH: LeBron receives standing ovation at Lakers´ summer league game|
|Tony Romo wins celebrity-filled American Century Championship|
|McGregor praises Putin after attending World Cup final|
|Open-bound Kim claims maiden title with eight-shot triumph|
|Eagles running back Sproles plans to retire after next season|
|World Cup winner Rami retires from international football|
15 de julio 2018
|Wimbledon champion Djokovic did not expect grand slam glory so soon|
|Ibrahimovic praises Pogba after World Cup final display|
|Wimbledon diary: Avengers too late for an Infinity War as Djokovic triumphs|
|Deschamp-agne – France´s 2018 vintage interrupt news conference to drench coach|
|I may have to dust my boots off! - Pele threatened by Mbappe exploits|
|WATCH: Mendy and Pogba dab with president Macron after World Cup win|
|Woods embracing ´different´ Carnoustie challenge ahead of Open return|
|Argentina dismiss Sampaoli after chaotic World Cup|
|France celebrates World Cup triumph|
|Djokovic made ´improvised Wimbledon trophies´ as a boy|
|Stone goes agonisingly close to 59 as Pepperell & Dantorp also make Open|
|Outcast Benzema delights in France win|
|Final a triumph in itself given Croatia´s off-field turmoil|
|Anderson laments Wimbledon final nerves|
|Deschamps joins elite club, Mbappe second to Pele - the best stats from the World Cup final|
|Belgium´s Courtois wins World Cup Golden Glove|
|Collarbone fracture confirmed for ´devastated´ Porte|