|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Plays of the Day from the first day of the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Melbourne
Andrew Fernando at the MCG
December 26, 2012
The poor stroke
Sri Lanka's top order played several awful shots during their first-innings shambles, but Tillakaratne Dilshan took the prize for woeful shot selection when he was bowled in the seventh over by Mitchell Johnson. Eyeing a good length delivery pitched on middle and off, and leaden-footed, Dilshan brought his bat down in an ungainful swipe across the line and missed the ball by a distance as it nipped back in at him. Dilshan had been eager to aggress from the first delivery he faced, but even given his hundred in the first Test that was founded on positivity, it was a stroke whose rashness the "that's the way I play" defense would struggle to survive.
When Johnson dismissed Prasanna Jayawardene and Dhammika Prasad with two consecutive lifters, Michael Clarke placed a leg gully, short leg and midwicket for Rangana Herath's first ball, even taking pains to approach the tailender and ensure he knew those men were there for the duck-hook he had played several times in Hobart. The 61,000-strong crowd clapping Johnson on as he approached the crease might have expected another bouncer as well, but instead he delivered a length ball on off stump, which Herath tamely tapped onto the offside.
Michael Hussey had snaffled a sharp chance at third slip to dismiss Angelo Mathews earlier in the session, but Matthew Wade's take to send Kumar Sangakkara back eclipsed that effort for pure tenacity. Wade turned around in an instant when Sangakkara top-edged a pull off Johnson, and tore after the skied ball, heading directly towards the sightscreen. Despite his speed, the ball seemed to have got away from him, right until he put in a full-stretch dive to intercept it with the tips of his webbed gloves, about 10 metres from the boundary.
Sri Lanka's only assured moments on day one were when Sangakkara was at the striker's end, and he was at his most sublime in the 21st over, when he struck Mitchell Johnson for a trio of exquisite boundaries. The first was hit through mid-on, as Johnson overpitched on leg stump, before Sangakkara went back to square-drive Johnson between gully and point the next delivery. The best shot of the three was the last - nothing more than a firm push with the full face of the bat that raced back past the bowler and to the straight boundary.
The overhead forehand
Shaminda Eranga attempted to bounce Hughes upon his arrival, letting one fly so high that it evaded Sangakkara's reach and skipped to the boundary. When he bowled a similar length next ball, Hughes found a way to get off the mark with a stroke that was unconventional even for him. The ball was flying through about a foot above his head well outside off stump, but Hughes managed to middle it, bringing his bat down on the shot much like how a tennis player would on an overhead volley, and sent it to the boundary.
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondentFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries
The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams
Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin
Out of 70 batsmen who've scored 15 or more Test hundreds only five are from Pakistan, but Younis Khan's appetite for hundreds matches that of some of the top contemporary batsmen
Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing
The offspinner was Australia's highest wicket-taker in 2013, but his form has dipped sharply this year
When a team loses its best bowler, it is expected that the team's performance will suffer. As usual, Pakistan defied the expectations