Khawaja, Smith set Australia before rain interrupts
Usman Khawaja and Steven Smith extended Australia’s dominance after a fine show by the visiting side’s bowlers, who bowled Sri Lanka out for just 117, before rain had the final say on the opening day of the first Test in Pallekele on Tuesday (July 26).
Australia was 66 for 2 at tea, trailing by 51 runs with Khawaja (25 not out) and Smith (28 not out) involved in an unbroken 59-run third-wicket partnership after it had lost David Warner (0) and Joe Burns (3), the openers, early in the piece. However, there was no play possible in the final session and that remained the score at stumps.
Play will begin 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled 10am on Wednesday.
In the post-lunch session, Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath picked up one wicket each after Sri Lanka’s batsmen faltered against an Australian attack led by Josh Hazlewood (3 for 21) and Nathan Lyon (3 for 12).
Sri Lanka had opted to bat after winning the toss, but failed to make use of decent batting conditions, struggling to cope with pace, swing and spin. Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc set the tone with early strikes before the spinners – Lyon in particular – made further inroads.
The innings started with Starc trapping Dimuth Karunaratne leg before in the fifth over, the opening batsman’s review going in vain. Hazlewood joined the party in the next over, dismissing Kusal Mendis in similar fashion before having Kaushal Silva edging to slip a few overs later as Sri Lanka stumbled to 18 for 3 early in the tenth over.
The onus was on Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal but neither batsman could do much. Mathews tamely poked Steve O’Keefe’s left-arm spin to slip while Chandimal edged an away-swinger from Hazlewood to the wicket-keeper.
After the break, Sri Lanka didn’t last long as Lyon got into the act and ran through the lower order with his off-spin by accounting for Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Dilruwan Perera in the space of eight balls.
The home side lasted just 6.2 overs in the second session but threatened a fightback as Pradeep struck in the third over, going through Warner’s defence to hit the stumps. Herath then had Burns in the next over in identical fashion but Smith and Khawaja steadied the ship to take Australia closer to Sri Lanka’s score.