Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, MCG, 2nd day December 27, 2012

Herath's stunner, and an unlikely MCG favourite

Plays of the Day from the second day of the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Melbourne

The catch

Despite having had no fewer than four catches spilt off his bowling in the innings, Rangana Herath pulled off a one-handed stunner at long-on to dismiss Michael Hussey for 34 in the evening session. Hussey went on one knee to slog Dilshan straight, but could neither time nor direct the stroke as he wished as it floated into the vicinity of the fielder. Herath had some distance to cover though, and he did so by cha-cha-ing sideways. Still, he could not get into a position to swallow the catch comfortably, so he threw his left arm over his head, and the ball settled in his outstretched fingers, almost in the same grip with which he bowls. Almost as impressive as the take was his ability to keep the ball in his hand as his momentum took him barrel-rolling across the turf.

Cheers of the day

Victorians can be a parochial bunch and that was evident when their current favourite son, Peter Siddle, strode to the crease as Hussey walked off. Enormous cheers went around the MCG, along with a chant of "Siddle, Siddle, Siddle". When Siddle scored his first run, a tight single pushed to the leg side, the roars went up again from the 39,486-strong crowd, many of whom by that stage of the late afternoon had been imbibing all day. Never before has a vegetarian teetotaller been so popular with an Australian sporting crowd.

The stab in the dark

Sri Lanka shelled a fair few chances close to the wicket on day two, but the most amusing fielding mishap occurred at fine leg, when Dhammika Prasad appeared to be fleeing the ball rolling towards him. Prasad had just had Matthew Wade caught at fine leg by Shaminda Eranga, but when Eranga induced a hook from Michael Hussey, he failed to distinguish the ball from the background and picked a direction at random, like a football goalkeeper during a penalty . By the time Prasad realised he was heading in the wrong direction, the ball had almost crossed the boundary about 20 metres behind him.

The expected demise

Shane Watson's poor conversion rate has earnt him a reputation for being a batsman who struggles to turn a start into a big score, and as he passed fifty at the MCG, the focus turned to whether he could progress to his third hundred. Schools of thought that proposed Watson's vulnerable period was in the fifties declared him safe when he forged onward - though a slower rate than Michael Clarke who hit a hundred despite having arrived at the crease after Watson. But eventually, Watson's resolve gave way and he reverted to type. Spotting a short ball from Prasad, Watson aimed his favourite pull shot at midwicket, but failed to keep it down, or away from the fielder positioned there for the stroke. Thilan Samaraweera settled under the ball, to send a frustrated Watson back to the dressing room.

Arrest of the day

The MCG scoreboard advises patrons that fines of up to $7300 can be imposed on anyone who enters the field of play illegally, but there's always someone who can't resist the urge, or the dares of drunken mates. This time it was a shirtless young man who jumped the fence from the Olympic Stand late in the day and sprinted on to the outfield, almost daring the security guards to come at him. He weaved and dodged and evaded as if he were an AFL player trying to clear the ball from a pack, and he was only caught while halfway through the act of hurdling the fence again in an effort to rejoin the crowd. Police officers escorted the man into the bowels of the MCG and his bank account is almost certainly significantly worse off than it was at the start of the day.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent; Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on December 27, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    This tram plays well neither on flat tracks nor on green wickets.

  • Rich on December 27, 2012, 22:27 GMT

    Another useful innings from Clarke, even though the Sri Lankan attack was gutless and tired, and this MCG pitch is very flat and bouncy. Clarke is the man again for us. We will have to bowl well second innings as this wrecked Sri Lankan batting line up is due a big score soon. Lyon probably can't be relied on to do anything other than tie up an end at 3 an over, but we can hope.

  • Peter on December 27, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    @ landl47, Probably a good take on it. Mahela also has had his troubles in Australia so probably didn't want the extra pressure of captaincy while he prepared for his own challenges.

  • John on December 27, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Just an observation, but the two captains are symbolic of the difference between the two sides. Clarke is loving every minute of it, smiling, having fun, relishing his role as leader. You'd need heavy machinery to get him off the pitch, not just a mere hamstring pull. Mahela looks as though he'd rather be anywhere than playing at the moment. People forget that he didn't want to be captain and only took it on when Dilshan flopped and Sanga didn't want the job back. He'll be happy and relieved to relniquish the role and hopefully will enjoy what's left of his career more. Both great players, but Clarke is where he wants to be and Mahela isn't.

  • kanas on December 27, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    @matchfixerpkn: Herath is actually better than Rhodes because he has taken similar catches before, but he doesn't get enough recognition, he is actually better fielder than the modern day Raina's umar akmal's etc

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    Herath took another amazing catch earlier this year off a Matthew Wade shot that would've been six or close.

  • Mashuq on December 27, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    If Oz wins, will Siddle be rotated. Surely Bird needs the opportunities that would have been afforded Hilfenhaus?

  • Aditya on December 27, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @ Andross - you got it all wrong mate - it was a superb catch 'by Herath's standards' - he is both vertically challenged and not as agile as Wade. Trust me, he will never take a catch like that ever again!

  • Anthony on December 27, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    We love Siddle 'cause he's a vegetarian! We love Siddle 'cause he's a vegetarian! We love Siddle 'cause he's a vegetarian!

  • Andross on December 27, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    I don't know so much about Herath's catch, it was certainly a good catch, but he made it look far more difficult that he had to. I think catches like McGrath's or even Wade's yesterday, where they sprint for it and still only get it at full stretch are better... but kudos none the less.

    @James Hiller, yeah, but if thats the case, why not be honest about it and say that?

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