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.
Most important points:
- Australia’s first innings came to an end during the opening session on day two
- Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis managed a 152-run partnership for Sri Lanka
- Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Swepson were the only Australian bowlers to take wickets
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.
Still, the skipper with Mendis set the tone in the 152-run position.
Mendis played nicely through the legs, his nine limits emphasized by pulling and hooking Pat Cummins on the rope.
What is also undeniable is that this wicket has far less poison than the one Sri Lanka was thrown out in the first Test for 113.
Australia’s Quicks have already thrown more overs than in the entire first Test, with Cameron Green also getting the ball for Swepson.
They’ve also fought for every real move, swapping the ball twice, but not getting a significant reverse swing from any of the three Kookaburras.
Starc was the only pacer to succeed, pulling Pathum Nissanka’s (6) lead when he sent one over the right-hander and Green made a nice catch in the trench.
Still, Australia knows this wicket will deteriorate and Mendis must score a big like Smith to avoid a run loss.
Smithy rarely looked challenged on day one or day two after raising his first century in exactly 18 months on Friday.
When he and Carey resumed on day two at 5-298, it looked like Australia could build to a big score.
But after Carey Prabath swept Jayasuriya to Ramesh Mendis at a low at 28, the Australian tail of Starc (1), Cummins (5), Nathan Lyon (5) and Swepson (3) only made 14.
Jayasuriya’s figures of 6-118 were also the second best by a Sri Lankan on debut in Test history, after also taking the main wicket from Marnus Labuschagne for 104 on Friday.
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