Australia's Jackson Bird (centre) celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Thilan Samaraweera for ten runs during the first day of the second cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photo by Reuters
Australia reached 150-3 at the close of the opening day of
the second test, punishing Sri Lanka after the visitors had
failed to build on Kumar Sangakkara's landmark half century
and were dismissed for just 156.
Openers Ed Cowan and David Warner charged to 95 without loss
but Sri Lanka checked the hosts with three quick wickets
following the drinks break in the post-tea session.
The mini-revival stalled, however, with two demoralising
dropped catches late in the day that allowed Australia
captain Michael Clarke (20 not out) and Shane Watson (13 not
out) to survive a watchful final hour to stumps.
Swashbuckling opener David Warner got Australia off to a
flying start, blasting eight fours and a massive six over
long on off the bowling of seamer Chanaka Welegedera.
Warner despatched Sri Lanka's pace trio to all corners of the
ground before all-rounder Angelo Mathews ended his innings at
62 when he belted a pull shot straight to Dhammika Prasad in
front of the rope at deep mid-wicket.
That precipitated a minor collapse, with number three batsman
Phillip Hughes run out for 10 and Cowan caught behind for 36
six balls later.
Hughes fell in farcical circumstances, failing to leave his
crease as Cowan charged through for a single after poking the
ball to midwicket.
The misjudgement allowed the fielding Tillakaratne Dilshan
enough time to fumble the ball before whipping it back to the
stumps where Kumar Sangakkara whipped off the bails.
Cowan soon brought about his own downfall with an
indiscriminate swipe at a Prasad delivery that flew into the
welcoming hands of Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene at
At the start of the day, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected
to bat in brilliant sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
and would have been hoping to set the hosts a major target in
their bid to square the three-match series.
However, barring Sangakkara's feat of scoring his 10,000th
test run within a solid 58, the visitors endured an abysmal
day in front of more than 67,000 spectators in the Boxing Day
Australia's seamers reduced the tourists to 79-3 by lunch and
took the last seven wickets for a paltry 77 runs.
Mitchell Johnson, back in the side after being overlooked for
Australia's first-test victory in Hobart, unleashed a mean
spell of short-pitched bowling and missed out on a hat-trick
straight after the drinks break in the middle session.
The mercurial left-armer was the pick of Australia's bowlers
with figures of 4-63, capturing the dangerous Sangakkara's
wicket and claiming his 200th victim in tests.
The 31-year-old had Matthew Wade to thank, the wicketkeeper
bolting 50 metres behind the wicket to take a brilliant
lunging catch in front of the southern stand after Sangakkara
had sent a top edge soaring into the heavens.
Sangakkara had earlier become the 11th batsman in test
history to reach the 10,000-run milestone and did it in style
with a glorious cover drive for four off the same bowler in
the final over before lunch.
The 35-year-old former captain bathed in a standing ovation
and shook hands with the Australian team but his dismissal
left Sri Lanka 147-8, snuffing out their hopes of more
While Johnson showed venom, and enjoyed fine support from
seamers Peter Siddle (2-30) and debutant Jackson Bird (2-32),
Sri Lanka's batsmen were culpable as they flashed carelessly
on a wicket that deserved more respect.
Sri Lanka's woes were further compounded by the news that
wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene had broken his thumb and
needed to be replaced behind the stumps by Sangakkara.