Embuldeniya was among the thick of things as the visitors picked up five wickets for just eight runs to close out South Africa’s second innings at 259 runs.
The hosts had started the day at 126-4 with their overall lead in the second innings standing at 170 and were shored up further with half-centuries from skipper Faf du Plessis and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The pair added 96-runs for the fifth wicket before de Kock was trapped on the pads by Embuldeniya.
The Proteas skipper them combined with Vernon Philander to add 61 runs for the sixth wicket before the latter became Embuldeniya’s fourth victim of the innings.
A change in the ball triggered a dramatic collapse for the hosts on a fast deteriorating surface with their final five wickets falling in a space of just a few overs. Du Plessis fell 10 runs short of a century to Vishwa Fernando who impressed with a four-wicket haul.
Having been set a daunting target of 304 to win in the final innings, Sri Lanka’s openers started strongly with Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne putting on a 42-run stand.
It was Kagiso Rabada who got South Africa the much-needed breakthrough by inducing an edge from Thirimanne before Philander ended Karunaratne’s vigil with a sharp inswinger.
The tourists were given another big setback towards the end of play on day three with Duanne Olivier dismissing Kusal Mendis for a duck.
With a crucial day four up ahead, Olivier has called for patience from South Africa’s bowlers in their bid to close out the game.
“It’s probably their game plan to play a few shots. I do think it gives us opportunities to take wickets,” the Proteas pacer was quoted as saying by AFP.
Emuldeniya, meanwhile, was delighted with his five-wicket haul on his first Test outing for Sri Lanka.
“I was very happy to contribute. My plan was just to bowl line and length,” he stated.
South Africa: 235 (first innings) and 259 (second innings)
Faf du Plessis: 90 (182)
Lasith Embuldeniya: 5-66 (26 overs)
Sri Lanka: 191 (first innings) and 83-3 (target 304)
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