Less than four months after Shane Warne’s death, the Australian men’s team has begun the search for the trophy named after him with a dazzling display of spin bowling on the first day of Australia’s first Test in Sri Lanka.
There were a number of tributes to Warne at the Galle International Stadium, and a plaque was presented to Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley in honor of the man who took 59 of his 708 Test wickets against Sri Lanka.
The Warne-Muralitharan Trophy is named after the Australian leg spinner and Sri Lankan off spinner, and both would have loved to see elite displays of their crafts on the first day of the two-test series.
Nathan Lyon took 5-90 with his offies, and leg spinner Mitch Swepson finished with the best marks of his three-Test career – finishing 3-55 after hitting a hat-trick at some point in the second session.
Captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc agreed on a wicket each to sack Sri Lanka for 212 from 59 overs.
After a confident start to the Australian innings in response, opener David Warner was jailed for 25 by Ramesh Mendis, LBW, and continued his lean run with the bat.
Warner has been without a century and has averaged under 30 in 18 test innings since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Marnus Labuschagne also fell under Mendis, while Steve Smith was out for 6 when he fell victim to a stump mix-up with Usman Khawaja, who didn’t finish day one 47th, alongside Travis Head (6*), with Australia 3 -98 at stumps.
Perhaps anticipating a pitch that would be a nightmare to save last, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and chose to bat, but the wickets fell at a steady pace throughout the innings, with the Seamers Cummins and Starc kicked things off with the wickets of Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis.
But from there it was a total spin on the sharp turning surface, and as Sri Lanka reached lunch without taking more damage, Lyon had Karunaratne skillfully caught by a diving Warner at slip in the third left after the break.
Not long after, Swepson had Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal in consecutive deliveries – the second fell to a sharp, juggled catch by Warner – but Niroshan Dickwella calmly wiped the so-called hat-trick ball.
The wicketkeeper’s 58-of-59 balls were Sri Lanka’s highest score, but he, like Angelo Mathews and Mendis before him, fell victim to the furious Lyon.
Tail-ender Lasith Embuldeniya was cleared by a superb jumping catch from Khawaja to give Lyon his first five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka since his first Test innings on the same ground in 2011.
Swepson ended the innings with Jeffrey Vandersay caught in the deep end for 6.