Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 1st Test: Day 1

Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 1st Test: Day 1

An attritional start to Australia's Test series

 

Australia's first Test since their Ashes loss continues their transition under the leadership of Michael Clarke, as Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon made their international debuts. Despite dire predictions and a bad start to their tour, it was Australia who started the Test series on a high, having beaten Sri Lanka in the ODI series. For their part, Sri Lanka would be without the bowling services of Lasith Malinga and, surprisingly, Ajantha Mendis, who was dropped.

 

 

 

 

 

Play on Day 1 was delayed by rain, but Michael Clarke won a vital toss and chose to bat first, essentially making Sri Lanka bat last on a pitch that would spin like a top on Day 5. Shane Watson continued his aggressive form from the Twenty20s and ODIs, taking four boundaries off a Chanaka Welegedera over. Rangana Herath was brought on to stem the tide and struck immediately, having Watson caught behind for 22. 28/0 became 36/2 as Phil Hughes fell to a searing delivery from Suranga Lakmal. Ricky Ponting, the only member of this Aussie Test squad to have played a Test in Sri Lanka before, continued to show his impressive form since he was relieved of the captaincy, taking consecutive boundaries off Lakmal, with Michael Clarke content to play second fiddle.

 

Clarke's fiddle wouldn't have lasted very long if Sri Lanka had reviewed a plumb LBW appeal that was turned down by umpire Richard Kettleborough, and the Australian captain guided his team to lunch at 76/2, hitting a boundary off the last ball of the session for good measure. Resuming, Ponting continued his good form, but Clarke's luck ran out, Sri Lanka successfully reviewing another dead LBW that again wasn't given out by Kettleborough. Clarke gone for 23, bringing Michael Hussey to the crease at 91/3. Good as Ponting was looking, he fell to Rangana Herath for 44, and at 112/4, Sri Lanka were starting to dictate terms.

 

Usman Khwaja survived a big shout and inconclusive review for caught behind off Suranga Lakmal, while Michael Hussey hit the first boundary in 83 balls. Another one pulled Australia over 150, but Khwaja fell on the stroke of tea, bowled by Welegedera for 21. Australia's recovery halted at 157/5, with Brad Haddin joining the confident and calm Hussey out in the middle when play resumed.

 

It was slow going for the visitors, but Hussey led the way with a gritty half-century. The two eventually attacked, taking Suraj Randiv for two 6s and a 4 before Randiv struck back to remove Haddin for 24. 205/6, and Mitchell Johnson made just 14 before he was gone to make it 234/7. Ryan Harris didn't last long, making a single run before being dismissed, but Trent Copeland enjoyed his international debut, hitting three quick boundaries before Randiv removed him on 251/9. Vitally for Australia, Michael Hussey was still there on 75*, surviving a catch on the boundary when Chanaka Welegedera touched the ropes with the ball in his hands. Another 6 took Hussey into the 90s, and a 4 put him within touching distance of a well-earned century; but it took the Sri Lankan captain, and the usually LBW-reluctant Richard Kettleborough, to dismiss Michael Hussey for a heroic 95, and end the innings at 273 all out.

 

The light was not good enough for Sri Lanka to start their reply, so that was Day 1. Hard grafting for Australia, but 273 isn't a bad first innings score in Sri Lanka, especially if the hosts find themselves having to bat on Day 4 or 5. They have Michael Hussey to thank for that; unfortunate as he was not to get his ton, he was the only one who looked like he understood the pitch, which, surprisingly for a first day track, had plenty of bounce and spin on offer. Batting won't be easy on this one, and given that their confidence might be low after the ODI series loss, Sri Lanka will have a tough time ahead of them.

 

Day 1: Australia 273 all out (Michael Hussey 95, Rangana Herath 24-3-54-3)