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Joe Burns

'We just had to absorb the pressure' – Joe Burns after field day in Canberra

Aus v SL, 2nd Test day 1, reaction

Joe Burns and Travis Head headlined the first day of Australia's final Test of the summer and Burns credited his batting partner for putting the pressure back on Sri Lanka after the hosts were 28/3 at one stage.

Burns (172*) and Head (161) rescued Australia from a precarious position and put on a mammoth 308-run partnership for the fourth wicket, during which the latter scored his maiden Test hundred while the former reached his first one in three years.

Sri Lanka, who were without their pace spearhead Suranga Lakmal, fielded an inexperienced attack of Kasun Rajitha, Viswa Fernando and Chamika Karunaratne, but the pacers were assisted by some grass on the wicket and eked out three Australian wickets inside the first nine overs.

Burns and Head shared a 308-run partnership for the fourth wicket
Burns and Head shared a 308-run partnership for the fourth wicket

"Coming into the day's play, we knew that the first hour was going to be pretty tough," Burns said after the day. "A bit of grass on the wicket, a bit of [cloud] overhead. So despite losing the three wickets, we knew that we just had to absorb that pressure that they posed to us.

"But we were also aware that they were an inexperienced bowling attack that were going to present scoring opportunities if we could get through those tough periods."

And so they did. Burns and Head batted the whole of second session without being separated and while Burns brought up his hundred just before tea, off 147 balls and with 16 fours, Head reached the landmark after the break, taking 155 balls and hitting 14 boundaries.

Head scored his maiden Test century
Head scored his maiden Test century

"Full credit to Trav, he comes out with great intent and puts the bowlers off their mark," Burns said of Head. "He turned three early wickets into, straight away, pressure back on the bowlers and you could sense it out there."

The job was made no less easy for the visitors as Burns and Head presented a left-hand right-hand combination that made the bowlers adjust their lines often. "I think also the left-hand, right-hand combination and just being able to score in different areas," Burns explained.

"And to keep the scoreboard ticking along all day meant that their bowlers couldn't get that build-up of pressure. That's the key to a good partnership, and it was really satisfying to do that for a long period of time today."

Burns remained unbeaten on his career-best Test score even as Head was trapped lbw by Fernando in the latter half of the third session. Nevertheless, a maiden Test hundred was an emotional moment for the left-hander from South Australia, Burns said.

"To see a bloke, the hard work that's he's done all summer and for a number of years playing against him as well, you knew how good a player he was," Burns said.

"I think it's one of those innings today that will get him started in his Test career and get that first one out of the way and open the floodgates. I just wanted to hug him as hard as I could for as long as I could and keep batting with him. It was really enjoyable."

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