• The visitors ahead by 101 runs at the end of the second day of the first Test
Australia’s Cameron Green struck a masterly 77 on a treacherous track and forged half-century partnerships with Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey to put the tourists in charge of the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Galle yesterday.
Green added 57 runs with Khawaja and 84 with Carey to help Australia eclipse Sri Lanka’s below-par total of 212 and reach 313-8, a handy lead of 101, at the Galle International Stadium.
Captain Pat Cummins was batting on after an entertaining 26 off 16 balls with Nathan Lyon on eight at the other end when bad light stopped the second day’s play.
Earlier, after rain and strong wind wiped out the entire morning session’s play, Australia yesterday resumed on 98-3 and lost Travis Head in the second over of the day.
Dhananjaya de Silva, the fourth spinner in Sri Lanka’s playing XI, flew to his right to take a brilliant return catch to dismiss Head.
Australia still plundered 135 runs from that 27-over session, scoring at five-runs-an-over, even if it cost them two wickets.
Khawaja made 71 before giving debutant leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay his first Test wicket.
Green found an able ally in Carey who dominated their partnership with his cheeky strokeplay.
On a track where the ball spun and reared up alarmingly, Carey frequently employed the sweep shot on either side of the wicket to counter the turn.
The stumper-batsman was going at a run-a-ball rate but Dinesh Chandimal took a stunning catch, running back at mid-off, to deny him a half-century.
Carey’s brisk 45 included six boundaries.
Green could not be denied his fifty though and the all-rounder showed impeccable temperament to master the perilous track.
Ramesh Mendis (4-107) finally ended Green’s vigil when he trapped him lbw, a decision the batsman immediately reviewed but could not get overturned.
Cummins provided some late entertainment with the bat by smashing three sixes, including two in the final over from Vandersay.
His last six was a monster hit which landed on the road outside the stadium.
Meanwhile Khawaja praised Green for handling the Sri Lankan spinners with aplomb after the two batsmen helped Australia to a 101-run first innings lead on a weather-hit day two of the opening Test.
“He (Green) batted beautifully,” said Khawaja.
“(It) took a lot of courage the way he batted. He came out and played a sweep shot straight away. That’s not easy.
“That wicket is extremely tough, it’s one of the toughest I have played on.”
Khawaja, 35 and a veteran of 49 Tests, said Green’s game is “well beyond where a lot of us were on the sub-continent at 20”.
“It’s great, a lot of the things we have learned as senior batters around the group. It’s great to see that knowledge being passed on.”
“They had a plan and as soon as they saw the wicket was spinning they started to sweep and reverse sweep,” Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunga told reporters.
“They succeeding in doing so. The credit should go to the Aussie batsmen as they handled spin better than our batters.”
Ferocious Indian Ocean winds battered Galle yesterday, upending broadcast equipment and one of the sightscreens at the ground in the port city.
The makeshift roof of one of the ground’s smaller stands was also brought down by the storm. No injuries were reported.
Once the rain stopped, ground staff worked quickly to set things in order and get the game underway.
Sri Lanka 1st innings (212 all out)
Australia 1st innings (overnight 98-3)
U. Khawaja c Nissanka b Vandersay 71
D. Warner lbw b R. Mendis 25
M. Labuschagne c Fernando b Mendis 13
S. Smith run out (Dickwella/K. Mendis) 6
T. Head c and b De Silva 6
C. Green lbw b R. Mendis 77
A. Carey c Chandimal b R. Mendis 45
M. Starc c and b Vandersay 10
P. Cummins not out 26
N. Lyon not out 8
Extras (b20, lb3, nb1, w2) 26
Total (8 wickets, 69 overs) 313
Fall of wickets: 1-47 (Warner), 2-75 (Labuschagne), 3-83 (Smith), 4-100 (Head), 5-157 (Khawaja), 6-241 (Carey), 7-278 (Green), 8-278 (Starc)
Bowling: Fernando 8-1-34-0 (w2), De Silva 5-0-8-1, Embuldeniya 15-0-73-0 (nb1), R. Mendis 31-0-107-4, Vandersay 10-0-68-2