Australia closed the first day of the first Test firmly in control against Sri Lanka as first David Warner, and then Phil Hughes and Michael Clarke passed 50.
On a pitch that had more than its fare share of green patches when Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat at the start of the day, their end of day total of 299 for four marks a good return.
bet365 make Australia 4/9 favourites to win after the first day with Sri Lanka 14/1 and the draw 9/4.
They hadn’t enjoyed the best of starts when Ed Cowan departed in the sixth over to a Chanaka Welegedara short delivery, top-edging an attempted pull to Shaminda Eranga at mid-on.
However, that was about as good as it got for Sri Lanka as the green areas on the pitch didn’t cause much deviation off the seam and the Hobart air didn’t offer anything like the prodigious swing that they may have hoped for.
The edge of the bat was beaten on rare occasions but not found as David Warner and Phil Hughes set about building what would be a 79-run second-wicket partnership and take Australia to the stroke of lunch. Warner was, as expected, the more aggressive of the two and brought up his fifty off 75 balls prior to being run-out after attempting an optimistic single.
After the break, Hughes was joined by Shane Watson and the pair would bat for the majority of the afternoon session. Hughes reached his half-century midway through the session and, at this early stage, Australia will be hopeful that they have finally found their long-term number three - a position that they have struggled to fill since Ricky Ponting’s demotion.
Hughes, as is his wont, was particularly strong on the off-side, crashing plenty of his trademark cut shots through point from his unique stance. He also found time to drive sweetly through cover and shuffle across his stumps to work balls that were not that straight into the leg-side for singles.
Unfortunately, Shane Watson left him when their partnership had reached 86 as Welegedara finally found an outside edge of an Australian’s bat and Mahela Jayawardene leapt to his right and clung on one-handed at second slip.
That made it 193 for three at tea and, shortly after the resumption, Hughes himself was out, dragging onto Welegedara. He had been caught behind off the same bowler when on 77, but was reprieved as the left-armer had overstepped. Welegedara, this time, managed to keep at least part of his foot behind the line and Hughes had to wend his way back to the pavilion 14 short of a comeback century.
At 198 for four, the next hour was sure to be crucial for both sides, but Australia’s dependable pair of Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey didn’t give Sri Lanka a sniff. They completed their fourth century stand of 2012 and, in 13 innings this year, have now added more than 1000 runs together at an average of 107.9.
Clarke was struck on the thigh by Eranga shortly before the close but that was pretty much the only blemish in the successful fifth-wicket partnership which had seen Australia take a firm control of the match and left Sri Lanka needing a good first session tomorrow.
© Cricket World 2012
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