Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 1st Test: Day 4

Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 1st Test: Day 4

Australia easily winning Test matches? This sounds familiar

 

Much like their Cardiff Test against England, an otherwise-solid Sri Lankan performance was undone by one innings of bad batting. They'd done well to restrict Australia to 273 and 210, but then succumbing to 103 all out and conceding a 168-run lead in the process undid any chance Sri Lanka might have had of saving the first Test. With their last established pair at the crease, it all depended on for how much longer Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene could hold out before inevitability took over.

 

 

 

 

 

Resuming play on Day 4 at 120/5, the Sri Lankan batsmen kept one eye on the Australian bowlers, one eye on the fading pitch and another on the approaching clouds. Only three overs of cricket were possible before the rains came, offering a brief hope of a draw resulting from time lost. But out the players came again, with Jayawardene settling into an early groove. Mathews joined in on the fun, taking Mitchell Johnson for consecutive 4s to bring up his half-century. It was Jayawardene who took control of proceedings, hitting Nathan Lyon for 6, bringing up the 100 partnership and taking Lyon for two boundaries later. Sri Lanka went to lunch on the relatively stable position of 185/5. Still light years away from winning, miles away from saving the game, but at least, for them, Mathews and Jayawardene were looking good.

 

Jayawardene reached his 29th Test century with a boundary after the break, the only man to score a ton in this game. But he played onto his stumps off Ryan Harris, ending a superb knock for just 105 when many more were required. Sri Lanka 209/6, with the vital 142-run partnership between Jayawardene and Mathews finally coming to an end. Suraj Randiv didn't last long, and the only question remaining was whether Mathews would be able to go better than his previous best Test score of 99, which also came in a losing cause (that against India).

 

Rangana Herath played a decent hand before falling for 12, but the deal was sealed when Shane Watson bowled Mathews for 95 - the second time Mathews has fallen in the 90s, with his first Test century proving as elusive as Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international century. 249/9, and only a matter of time until the final wicket fell. Nathan Lyon had the honor of taking it, dismissing Suranga Lakmal, as Australia stormed to victory by 125 runs.

 

Anybody remember the last time Sri Lanka won a Test match? No, neither do I. Good start for Michael Clarke as Australia's full-time Test captain. Better skippers than him have come and gone without winning a Test in Sri Lanka, but he was helped by a brittle batting lineup giving way to some impressive and inspiring debutantes. Nathan Lyon won't soon forget this game - six wickets on debut - and neither will Ricky Ponting, who celebrates his 100th Test win, a record that probably won't be bettered any time soon.

 

While Ponting flies home to attend the birth of his second child, Sri Lanka have a lot of searching to do. Should they have gone with Ajantha Mendis, who still struggles to maintain his consistency? How and why did the batting repeatedly fall apart? And will they go the way of New Zealand, who, after the retirement of Sir Richard Hadlee, gradually declined in Test quality? Tough questions to be asked for a tough series.

 

Day 4: Sri Lanka 253 all out (Mahela Jayawardene 105, Ryan Harris 20-5-62-5)

lose to Australia by 125 runs

Man of the Match: Michael Hussey