Left-hander Jean-Paul Duminy was batting on 22 with Vernon Philander on three at the break.
It turned out to be a mixed session for the visitors who added 63 runs off 30 overs while losing two wickets in hot and humid conditions at the Galle International Stadium.
Sri Lanka did well to contain the Proteas, especially since they were one bowler short with a split webbing almost ruling out pace spearhead Shaminda Eranga from the rest of the game.
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Eranga had bowled just nine overs when he hurt his bowling hand while fielding on day one. The injury required eight stitches, according to the Sri Lankan media officials.
South Africa lost an early wicket when nightwatchman Dale Steyn (three) was foxed by a straighter one from paceman Suranga Lakmal (3-50) that crashed onto his stumps.
De Kock, who scored a match