Australia in Sri Lanka, 2nd Test: Day 4

Australia in Sri Lanka, 2nd Test: Day 4

A belated fightback from the hosts

 

Not much has gone right for Sri Lanka this Test series, with even tactical victories being tempered by the fact that Australia have easily taken the upper hand. This couldn't have been more evident than on the final session of play on Day 3, when Suraj Randiv's consecutive wickets didn't mask Australia's huge lead, which had significantly eclipsed Sri Lanka's meager first innings total. With Australian's poised for a declaration, it was only question of how much pain Michael Clarke wanted to inflict, before letting his bowlers take another shot at Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

 

 

As it turned out, not much: Clarke announced an overnight declaration, closing Australia's innings at 411/7 and setting a first innings lead of 237. Tharanga Paranavitana endured a nervy start before getting off the dreaded pair, then taking Ryan Harris for a consecutive boundaries to get Sri Lanka moving. Tillekerate Dilshan was not far behind, doing the same to Harris a couple of overs later. The 50* partnership came at good clip, Sri Lanka's first half-century stand for the series, which says a lot.

 

Dilshan mixed aggression with circumspect, a good move after his struggling form as of late, but Paranavitana survived a vociferous and controversial appeal for caught behind off Mitchell Johnson. Replays were inconclusive as to whether the batsman gloved the ball on the way to Brad Haddin, and Paranavitana continued on. He and Dilshan kept going, but the solid foundation was halted on the stroke of lunch, when Dilshan's aggressiveness condemned him and he was caught off Harris for 36. Still, better than his first innings score, and at 81/1, Sri Lanka weren't doing too badly, trailing by 156.

 

Paranavitana and Kumar Sangakkara took the score past 100 (for the loss of just one wicket, that makes a change). Paranavitana reached a calm half-century to give the innings some stability, but was caught behind off Australia's new secret weapon - Michael Hussey. It wasn't a clear dismissal, as Hussey didn't even appeal for the wicket at first. Replays were still inconsistent, but the third umpire saw and heard enough to send Paranavitana on his way for a useful 55, as Sri Lanka lost their second wicket at 128. To go with his 95 in the first game and 142 in this, Michael Hussey's bowling figures read 2-2-0-2.


With Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene at the crease, the drawbridge was raised and the portcullis dropped. The 150 came up before the tea break, with Sri Lanka at a comfortable (and more importantly, safe) 164/2 , trailing by just 73.

 

Sangakkara lead the way after the break, hitting the first ball of the session for 4. Mahela Jayawardene brought up the 50* stand, and Sangakkara reached his own half-century shortly afterwards with a boundary. Jayawardene was happy to play second fiddle, having scored 16* off 71 balls at that point, but denying Australia the easy inroads they had frequently found in Sri Lanka's previous at bats.

 

The 200 came up with no incident, and apart from Jaywardene skying a ball into no-man's land, there was no excitement for either team as stumps were called. At long last, Sri Lanka claimed a day for themselves in this series, finishing Day 4 at 223/2, trailing by just 14 runs with 8 wickets left.

 

I'd like to say that defeat has obviously been avoided, but this is a team that slumped to 82 all out not too long ago. That said, Sangakkara and Jayawardene are looking as solid as they normally should, Sri Lanka finally bringing their batting credentials to the table. Winning is almost certainly out of the question, and all that's left for Sri Lanka to do is bat out the draw, and regroup and consolidate for the final Test in Colombo to try and square the series.

 

There wasn't much for Australia to do today, other than plug away and keep Sri Lanka quiet. Mission accomplished, for all intents and purposes. They may not have run through the Sri Lankans like they've done in this game and the last, but Michael Clarke's men have done enough to ensure that they can't lose this Test - and, by that token, this series.

 

Day 4: Sri Lanka 223/2 (Kumar Sangakkara 69*, Michael Hussey 4-2-2-1)

trail Australia 411/7 declared (Michael Hussey 142, Suraj Randiv 43-7-103-3)

by 14 runs with 8 wickets left