Australia’s position in the first Test against Sri Lanka went from strong to impregnable on the second day as they closed 363 runs ahead of the tourists after declaring on 450 for five and then removed the Sri Lankan top-order cheaply.
The failures of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara continue a worrying trend that began developing in the series against New Zealand and will provide Sri Lanka with a major headache if it endures. The loss of Thilan Samaraweera to the final ball of the day only deepened Sri Lanka’s woes and they sit on 87 for four overnight - still some way shy of avoiding the follow-on.
The day hadn’t begun badly for Sri Lanka as, after a rain delay, Shaminda Eranga had Michael Clarke caught at slip by Sangakkara in the third over. However, Matthew Wade joined Mike Hussey and the two wouldn’t be parted until Clarke called them in well into the afternoon session.
The partnership began slowly, but, after lunch, they began to accelerate. Both were dropped - Wade when on 20 by the substitute Suraj Randiv and Hussey on 96 by Angelo Mathews at deep mid-wicket who could only parry the ball over the rope. That brought up Hussey’s fourth century of 2012 off 171 balls and, as other ageing stars - Tendulkar and Ponting to name just two - have faded around him, he has gone from strength to strength. Wade had brought up his fifty just a short while earlier, taking a more ponderous 119 deliveries, and both men were unbeaten when Clarke brought their sixth-wicket stand to a close at 146 by declaring.
That appeared a brave move at the time on a pitch that wasn’t offering too much to bowlers purveying either spin or seam. However, Clarke’s decision was likely influenced by the threat of rain - there had been another delay after lunch with more threatened for the rest of the match - and was soon rewarded.
After surviving the seven overs until tea unscathed, Dimuth Karunaratne edged a ball from Ben Hilfenhaus through to Wade as he made the most of the seam movement that had been largely absent earlier to move the ball away from the left-hander. If that blow was a manageable one for the tourists then the next three certainly weren’t.
Sangakkara drove loosely at Peter Siddle and edged to Hussey in the gully; Jayawardene was given out leg-before off Shane Watson, despite calling for a review; and Samaraweera completed the misery by edging Nathan Lyon through to Wade to bring a slightly premature end to a day that has put Australia firmly in control. Sri Lanka’s main hope now rest with Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is unbeaten on 50, and the Hobart rain.
© Cricket World 2012
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