Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 1st day December 14, 2012

Batsmen put Australia on top


Australia 4 for 299 (Hughes 86, Clarke 70*, Warner 57, Welegedara 3-99) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Australian spectators have been spoiled over the past few weeks. In Adelaide, Australia piled on 482 runs on the first day against South Africa, and at the WACA the following week 12 wickets fell on the opening day. But the start of the series against Sri Lanka took a much more meandering course, as first Phillip Hughes and David Warner, then Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey, steered the Australians through the day safely to reach stumps at 4 for 299. It was a good day for the Australians, but by the standards set in the South African series, a somewhat muted one.

Apart from the occasional arresting moment - Mahela Jayawardene's leaping catch to dismiss Shane Watson, for example - nearly everything about the day was subdued. The pitch didn't offer the bowlers a lot of assistance, although the Sri Lankans didn't have the pace and bounce to make best use of what was there; the batsmen accumulated rather than obliterated; and even the crowd of 6221 was lacklustre, given that there was a special lunchtime farewell for Tasmania's finest, Ricky Ponting.

But that's Test cricket. Nearly 300 in a day was a fine outcome for Australia, and Sri Lanka need to find some sort of spark to ensure they are not gradually chiselled out of the match. Quick wickets on the second day would do it, but by the end of the first, Clarke and Hussey were rarely looking troubled. At stumps, Clarke was on 70, continuing his outstanding summer, and Hussey was on 37, and the only hint of discomfort was Clarke's hobbling after being struck a painful blow on the thigh by a delivery from Shaminda Eranga.

The Clarke-Hussey partnership reached triple-figures in the final over of the day and as they have so often, the two men were constructing a middle-order fortress. At least this time, they had a solid base to work from, having come together at 4 for 198. Their partnership began when Hughes missed the chance to mark his return to Test cricket with a century. On 86, he was bowled when Chanaka Welegedara rolled the fingers on an offcutter and tickled the ball off the inside edge of the bat and on to the stumps.

It was an opportunity missed for Hughes, but his comeback was still very encouraging, and not since Shaun Marsh scored a hundred on debut had an Australian No.3 made as many in an innings. Hughes had been powerful through the off side, with his trademark cuts and also some crisp cover-drives, but he was also able to pick up singles through the leg side using his off-stump stance.

He cleared the boundary once, when he came down the pitch to Rangana Herath and smashed him over long-on, and his half-century came up from his 121st delivery with a square drive for three. He was lucky to survive on 77 when he slashed at Welegedara, the only bowler to take a wicket on the first day, and was caught behind off a no-ball. The reprieve wasn't too costly for the Sri Lankans, but it typified a disappointing day for them.

Hughes and David Warner had both played well in the first session until a mix-up in the last over before lunch ended Warner's hopes of a second Hobart hundred after his innings against New Zealand last year. Warner pushed Tillakaratne Dilshan to short cover and took off before stopping, only to see Hughes run through and complete the run while Angelo Mathews threw to the bowler's end.

It ended Warner's innings for 57 from 89 deliveries. He had struck eight boundaries and was especially strong through the off side, driving through cover when the seamers overpitched. Warner and Hughes had come together after Ed Cowan, on 4, skied a catch to mid-on when he tried to pull Welegedara. That left Australia at 1 for 18, hardly the start Clarke hoped for when he chose to bat on a pitch with some green patches.

The Sri Lankan seamers found the occasional edge, including one in the first over when Cowan was nearly taken low to the ground at slip off Nuwan Kulasekara, and a couple of others that whizzed past the stumps. But it wasn't until later in the day when Shane Watson, in his first innings at No.4, drove at Welegedara that an edge produced a result for Sri Lanka.

Watson was done by the angle across him and his thick edge flew to the vacant third slip region, but from second slip Jayawardene hurled himself to his right and plucked a one-handed take that must have been close to the finest of his 190 Test catches. It was the kind of spark that Sri Lanka required. They finished the day needing something special to lift them again.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • luke on December 16, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    LOL...@tommytuckersaffa your life makes me sad

  • Andrew on December 15, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    @ Last_ride on (December 14 2012, 13:11 PM GMT) - rubbish! Sth Africa since their return to Test cricket have maintained a very good standard through out the 20 something years. However, when Oz was dominating, we would thrash teams home & away. Sth Africa win series alright, but they are NOT dominant. @SamRoy on (December 14 2012, 11:41 AM GMT) - NZ have really good seamers, but I rate Eranga as highly (potentially better than any of the Kiwis). He only had one wicket to show for his efforts, but he was heaps better. Herath is a mile better than any NZ spinners. In the end the NZ v SL was a draw, other than that, NZ play most of their cricket on juicy pitches, so it is not easy to make comparisons IMO.

  • Michael on December 15, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    @tommytuckersaffa Go and watch the Saffers play. Mate this is Aus playing SL and one has to say that Aus is on top at this stage. Your fellow Saffers must be thrilled to have a know nothing but thinks he's a know it all like you.

  • Lewis on December 15, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    I am a fan of Hughes, but he should start opening as he is the best opener in the country. Bring Khawaja in at 3 as he has scored runs in shield in some very bowler friendly conditions and has proven me wrong, most importantly his running between the wickets, fielding and attitude looks a 100% better then last year under boof and this was stated by Inevarity last week. I think you need to take a closer look at him mate, he is a much better player this year.

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    @ tommy, i guess you would call kallis a coward as well then ?? considering he is hiding from the new ball at number 4 then

  • Andrew on December 14, 2012, 23:51 GMT

    I'm sick of hearing Clark called a coward because he won't put himself up the batting order. Surely its a tactical move (non-move?) because he's most effective at that position. He does the best for the team batting there, and more suited than other contenders. He has the concentration to stay in and potentially turn a game. Perhaps some of the other guys fend off the new ball better, and when the shine has gone, Clark comes in to plunder. Its a bit like saying that five eigth is a coward for not playing front row, when he may know the game inside out, be fast on his feet and have quick hands... but everyone knows he's most effective when the front row have take the sting out the defence, pass the ball back to the play maker and its "shut the gate"! Horses for courses I say!!

  • Rohan on December 14, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    Still not convinced by Hughes, especially against very good fast bowlers. But he is very definitely a confidence player and maybe if he fills his boots with runs against SL and India he'll do ok against England, assuming they can keep an attack together!

  • Ash on December 14, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    why are there 4 openers in the side? cowan has is bog average with an average of 31 after 4 series. he needs to be dropped ASAP.

  • Peter on December 14, 2012, 23:35 GMT

    Not too bad effort this. Sri Lankan bowlers actually bowled better as the day wore on & never tossed in the towel, an admirable trait. The pitch is playing uneven with some balls squirting up nastily off a length (Matthews nearly removed Clarke's head with one at just 124kpm) while others tended to stay a little low. Batting won't get easier. I actually liked last season's pitch for the simple reason that bowlers got a lot out of it & batsmen had to really earn their runs.

  • R on December 14, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    @hyclass... nice to read a comment of some thought and substance... from the outside looking in it seems there is too much (real and feared) change around the oz team, with people looking over their shoulder and plenty of bad press. The selctions of Quiney and Hastings show an absence of planning and credible forethought. The problem therefore is with the management I'm afraid, starting with Arthur. A quick listen to him will underline this.

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