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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sri Lanka bat first and feebly against unrelenting Australia

Australia 0/60 (17.4 ov) trail Sri Lanka 174 (64.1 ov, A Mathews 58) by 114 runs with all 1st innings wickets in hand. T2D1 at Pallekele.

I didn't expect that, having won the toss and choosing to bat, Sri Lanka would reprise their Galle meltdown, but they did come close.

After Ryan Harris and Trent Copeland took the wind out of Sri Lanka's sails things did improve (could they have got much worse than 3/14?) for a while, as the pitch ( which was never as dodgy as the Galle one) became progressively easier to bat on. But Australian bowling which was always persistent, and often brilliant, coupled with some sloppy batting kept the home team in check.

Only Kumar Sangakkara, in gritty Test match mode, 48/121b (7x4) and Angelo Mathews, choosing the right balls to biff, 58/111b (3x6, 6x4), passed 20. Sangakkara was dropped early but thereafter fought hard until he succumbed to, of all people, Mike Hussey's gentle slow medium. (Hussey also took a brilliant catch in the gully to send Mahela Jayawardene packing cheaply)

Prasanna Jayawardene was the third highest scorer, but his brief innings exemplified the inept indiscipline of the SL batting: just before lunch he took 12 off Nathan Lyon's first five balls, then hoicked the last one to square leg.

174 was hardly a facesaving total and, as Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes showed (a near run out and a couple of close lbw appeals apart), it is unlikely to prevent Australia from amassing a considerable first innings lead, especially as the Sri Lankan attack is without the injured/ill Ajanta Mendis and Rangana Herath.


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