Tons for Smith and Labuschagne on Day One against Sri Lanka
SUMMARY: Australia 298-5 (Steve Smith 109*, Marnus Labuschagne 104; Prabath Jayasuriya 3-90) vs Sri Lanka
Led by centuries from Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, Australia posted 298-5 on the opening day in the second Test, at the Galle International Stadium, on Friday.
The duo took advantage of Sri Lanka’s offerings in fairly challenging conditions for batting, returning 109* and 104 respectively.
Australia were in trouble early, losing David Warner for five after electing to bat. Warner was undone by a Kasun raitha delivery that angled away from him from round the stumps, squaring him up, and inducing an outside edge to the wicketkeeper.
Sri Lanka’s new ball duo – Rajitha and Ramesh Mendis – bowled challenging lines, and on a pitch that was offering bounce and turn, tested the Australian batters for a while.
However, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne negated that by constant rotation of strike through the course of their 55-run partnership.
Mendis eventually had the better of Khawaja, beating the outside edge of his bat and hitting the stumps – ending the in-form southpaw’s innings on 37.
However, Sri Lanka couldn’t capitalise on the situation. Mendis had even Labuschange tricked only a few overs later when the batsman stepped out of crease but failed to make a connection with the ball. However, Niroshan Dickwella fumbled behind the stumps and offered the Australia number three a life on 28.
He took good advantage of the opportunity and went on the offensive in the post Lunch session. It was a period where Sri Lankan bowlers couldn’t find ways to trouble the Australian third wicket pair and, on top of that, kept offering easy runs.
Both Smith and Labuschagne were quick to pounce on the loose deliveries, several of those coming their way – either too short or too full.
Labuschagne brought up his first Test century away from home while Smith went on to notch up yet another fifty, in what was a near flawless performance in the second session as the duo extended their partnership to 134 before Labuschagne eventually fell.
Prabath Jayasuriya, one of the three debutants in Sri Lanka’s XI for the Test, teased him out of his crease, only for Dickwella to finally have the batter stumped on 104.
The slow left-armer continued to be the only threat for Australia as they stuttered but continued to remain in control in the last session of the day. Even as Smith kept the scoreboard busy with frequent rotation of strike and the occasional boundaries, Jayasuriya chipped away with the wickets of Travis Head and Chris Green.
Head was bowled for 12 while trying to play the wrong line, while Green was adjudged leg before for four, soon after Dickwella had missed another stumping opportunity.
Smith played out the last half an hour safely, taking majority of the strike against the left-armer before bringing up his century with a cracking drive through extra cover off Rajitha. He went to stumps safely in the company of Alex Carey, who remained unbeaten on 16. (ESPNcricinfo)