Saturday 24 March 2018 / 06:57 PM


Rain restricted play to just 54.2 overs on Day 1 of the first Sri Lanka-Australia Test in Pallekele, but the tourists finished in a commanding position after a stunning bowling performance.

Sri Lanka was skittled for just 117 in 34.2 overs, with Australia’s pace duo Josh Hazlewood (3/21) and Mitchell Starc (2/51) doing the damage up front, before the double-pronged spin attack of Nathan Lyon (3/12) and Steve O’Keefe (2/32) largely took care of the middle and lower order.

Australia overcame a disastrous start to their reply, recovering to be 2/66 when rain halted play, with Usman Khawaja (25*) and Steve Smith (28*) unbeaten at the crease.

The hosts were in early trouble at 3/18, while Dinesh Chandimal (15), captain Angelo Mathews (15), debutant and top-scorer Dhananjaya de Silva (24) and Kusal Perera (20) offered only moderate middle-order resistance.

Lyon claimed de Silva, Dilruwan Perera (0) and Kusal Perera in the space of seven deliveries, sparking a collapse that saw the last five wickets fall for just 30 runs.

Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath both made early breakthroughs for Sri Lanka, removing David Warner (0) and Joe Burns (3) inside the first four overs to leave Australia reeling at 2/7, but Khawaja and Smith steadied the ship before the weather intervened.

Stud of the day

The Sri Lankan batsmen couldn’t handle Josh Hazlewood’s pace and swing, with the tall quick conceding runs at just 2.10 an over and getting rid of three of the home side’s top four.

Looking ahead

The weather looks to be Australia’s most formidable opponent, with plenty of rain forecast over the coming days. But if even a total of two and a half days get played, the feeling is the visitors should have enough time to chalk up a comfortable victory in tough batting conditions.

Fun facts

-This Test marked the first time in Sri Lanka all four openers had been dismissed for single-figure scores in the first innings.

-The 34.2 overs Sri Lanka batted for was their shortest ever after opting to bat first.

-Mitchell Starc reached the milestone of 200 first-class wickets during the first innings.

-Australia’s only Test loss to Sri Lanka in 26 previous encounters was in Kandy in 1999.

Around the world 

After losing the first Test at Lord’s, England bounced back with a 330-run thrashing of Pakistan in the second Test at Old Trafford. Joe Root’s 254 underpinned England’s mammoth first-innings total of 589, before Pakistan succumbed for 198 in their reply. The hosts declared their second innings at 1/173 – man-of-the-match Root unbeaten on 71 and Alistair Cook not out on 76 – after they opted not to enforce the follow-on, and the Test was wrapped up inside four days as Pakistan was rolled for 234 in their second dig. Chris Woakes’ brilliant form with the ball continued with match figures of 7/108.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s post-Brendon McCullum era begins in earnest today as the Black Caps’ two-Test series against Zimbabwe gets underway in Bulawayo.

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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