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Australia in trouble after 21-wicket day

Visiting side ends second day on 25 for 3 after being set 413, with Herath’s hat-trick and Starc’s six-for the bowling standouts

Australia in trouble after 21-wicket day - Cricket News
Rangana Herath's hat-trick helped him finish with 4 for 35.

Australia began day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday (August 5) on 54 for 2. At stumps, it was 25 for 3, with 21 wickets having fallen on a day that had Rangana Herath taking a hat-trick and Mitchell Starc returning 6 for 50 for match figures of 11 for 94.

However, with Australia having been set a target of 413 for an unlikely series-levelling win, it was the home side who was in prime position to force a series-clinching win. At stumps, David Warner (22 not out) was holding fort with Steven Smith, the captain, who was unbeaten on 1. But Australia still needs another 388 runs with only seven wickets standing.

Australia's morning session led to its current position, with the team bowled out for just 106 in 33.2 overs to hand Sri Lanka a big 175-run lead. Herath (4 for 35) and Dilruwan Perera (4 for 29) did most of the damage as Australia was bowled out for its lowest score in 28 Tests against Sri Lanka. It meant Australia had lost eight wickets for just 52 runs on Friday, but given that play ended on Thursday with Warner’s wicket, it had gone from 54 for 1 to 106 all out.

The first session on Friday brought 11 wickets, but Angelo Mathews showed that the pitch was far from being unplayable. The Sri Lanka captain made a fine 69-ball 47, and the dynamic duo of Dilruwan (64) and Herath (26) swelled the lead to massive proportions with a 61-run stand for the eighth wicket.

Sri Lanka was bowled out for 237 and Starc finished the day with the best figures by an Australia bowler in Sri Lanka. However, Starc's feat was overshadowed within mere minutes as Australia lost three wickets in the first four overs of its second innings. Joe Burns and Nathan Lyon, the nightwatchman, were caught while Usman Khawaja was bowled. Dilruwan and Herath were at it again, sharing those wickets. Smith and Warner took the side through to the close without further loss.


 

In the morning, resuming on its overnight score of 54 for 2, Australia never got going. Dilruwan started the proceedings, bowling Khawaja (11) in his second over of the day before Herath took his first wicket by clean bowling Smith for 5 with the first ball of the next over.

But it was Herath's seventh over of the innings which proved decisive, as he dismissed Adam Voges, Peter Nevill and Starc off consecutive deliveries.

Voges was beaten in flight, Nevill was trapped in front, and Starc was rapped on the pads. The batsman was initially adjudged not out by the on-field umpire, but Mathews, after a word from Herath, decided to review. The replays showed that it was in line and would go on to clip the top of middle stump, and the decision was overturned to make Herath the second Sri Lanka player after Nuwan Zoyza to take a hat-trick in Tests.

Australia was 80 for 7 at that stage, but a few sixes from Mitchell Marsh helped the side edge past the 100-run mark, while Perera continued to chip away at the other end. Marsh, who made 27 off 42 balls, finally holed out to long-off off the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan, with Dimuth Karunaratne taking an excellent catch.

Sri Lanka's openers, however, didn't last long against Australia's pacers. Kaushal Silva edged Josh Hazlewood to Smith at second slip, and Karunaratne chipped to gully off Starc.

Kusal Mendis, whose 86 in the first innings has been the highest score of the match so far, also fell to Starc, caught behind in the seventh over.

But with Starc out of the attack, Kusal Perera and Mathews capitalised, putting on 48 runs at quick pace against the spin duo of Lyon and Jon Holland, the debutant.

Lyon eventually got Kusal (35), pegging back middle stump. Smith then turned to Starc once again and the paceman delivered, inducing an edge from Dinesh Chandimal to the 'keeper.

By this time though, Sri Lanka was well in front. Mathews perished trying to reverse-sweep Lyon, but it was indicative of the positive intent shown by the side. Dilruwan was even more belligerent, slamming seven fours and two sixes in his 89-ball 64. 

With the healthy cushion of runs, Sri Lanka could afford to bat with a more carefree attitude. Australia, however, will have to eschew shot-making and put a premium on caution when it continues batting on Saturday.

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