Sri Lanka has rediscovered its struggle amid the chaos of loud protests and fireworks in Galle to head to stumps on day two at 2-184 in response to Australia’s 364.

Buoyed by their efforts to pass Australia’s tail and leave Steve Smith stranded at 145 not out, the hosts enjoyed their best day of the series in the second and final Test.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne led the charge with 86 runs, paired with Kusal Mendis (84 not out) for Sri Lanka’s biggest second-wicket partnership against Australia.

It came on a dramatic day at Galle’s International Stadium, with thousands marching outside the ground to protest and the country’s president fleeing his palace 125 kilometers away in Colombo.

The demonstration has made cricket an afterthought after months of economic crisis.

But on the field, the home side offered much-needed resistance.

Sri Lanka was knocked out in 22.5 overs last week and lost just two wickets in almost triple on Saturday.

Karunaratne also scored double the number of runs he did on all of Australia’s last tour, having struggled through the three-test series in 2016.

The opener, which was then destroyed by Mitchell Starc, played it well, despite being chased once by a short ball.

He survived the odds at 18 and 35, when Starc missed a runout with one punch to aim for and Mitchell Swepson dropped a tricky opportunity.

Swepson eventually got his man with one that slipped and trapped Karunaratne LBW late in the day.

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