Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 3rd day December 28, 2012

Sri Lanka thrown to the lions


Australia 460 (Clarke 106, Johnson 92*, Watson 83, Warner 62, Prasad 3-106, Eranga 3-109) beat Sri Lanka 156 and 103 (Johnson 2-16, Bird 2-29) by an innings and 201 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In his summary of the 1974-75 Ashes series, Wisden's correspondent John Thicknesse wrote of the havoc wrought by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson that "England's batsmen must have experienced the same sort of emotion as they waited for the next ball as early Christians felt as they waited in the Colosseum for the lions."

Sri Lanka's batsmen were wracked by that same feeling of helplessness and inevitability as Australia completed a fearful mauling of the tourists in the Boxing Day Test, as the incisiveness of the home bowling attack combined with a dreadful glut of injuries to have the match over by 2.10pm on the third afternoon. The fall of Sri Lanka's seventh wicket, fittingly to a short-pitched ball, meant the end of the contest, as none of Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welegedara or Kumar Sangakkara were fit to bat.

Sangakkara had suffered a suspected finger fracture at the hands of the man of the match Mitchell Johnson, who began the day by guiding Australia's tail to a lead of 304 and ended it as the chief inflictor of pain on a Sri Lankan team that was overwhelmed even more comprehensively than India had been last year.

Australia's victory was a reward for a consistently diligent and aggressive pursuit of victory, though it was hard to define how well they had played given the collective weakness of their opponents, who had clearly thrown their best and only punch in Hobart. Nonetheless it was a triumphant way for Michael Clarke's team to conclude the year, even if they had their own injury worry in the shape of Shane Watson's problematic calf.

The destruction of Sri Lanka's innings began in the first over. Dimuth Karunaratne was farcically run out after taking his team's first run, and next ball Tillakaratne Dilshan squeezed a Johnson short ball to short leg. Jackson Bird again made a striking impression, deceiving Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera with his immaculate line and a little movement in either direction.

Bird and Nathan Lyon had failed to keep Johnson company for long enough to allow the left-hander his second Test hundred after a rasping effort in Cape Town in 2009, but this was to seem of little consequence once the Sri Lankans began batting.

Lyon's intention when play resumed had to be to hang around while Johnson pushed towards his second Test century. However his actions did not match the goal, as after taking a single to get off a duck he was late on a pull shot at Angelo Mathews and lobbed the simplest of catches to midwicket.

That left Johnson with the company of only the last man Bird, who with a first-class batting average of 8.22 was certainly entitled to his station beneath Lyon in the order. Needing another 17 runs when Bird walked tot he middle, Johnson set about the task with good sense, pinching singles here and there while also driving Mathews sweetly down the ground.

He had made it as far as 92 when Bird faced up to Shaminda Eranga, who delivered a ball that was fast, full and more or less wasted on the batsman, who was comically late as the ball crashed into middle and off stumps. Johnson accepted a gesture of consolation from Bird before jogging off the field, assuming his next task of taking the new ball in the second innings.

Johnson did not have long to wait for a celebration, Karaunaratne pushing into the offside third ball of the innings and setting off fatally for a second run as David Warner fielded and threw sharply back to the bowler, whose dive to break the stumps beat Karunaratne comfortably. Dilshan's first ball was short, fast and at the batsman's armpit, forcing a self-preervative stroke that lopped off glove and thigh for Ed Cowan to run back and catch - 2 for 1.

Jayawardene's decline as an international batsman on foreign shores has been dispiriting for those who have witnessed his best, and here he was defeated by Bird's line, unsure whether to play or leave and withdrawing his bat too late to avoid a wretched inside edge onto the stumps.

Samaraweera played Bird uncertainly from the crease, and when the bowler seamed one back at him was pinned in front for a clear LBW, the batsman's DRS referral made more out of desperation than calculation. Replays duly showed the ball striking leg stump, leaving Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews to limp to the interval.

Not long after lunch, Sangakkara winced when fending a Johnson delivery off the glove and shook his head forlornly when the team physio examined the damage. He left the field to become the third Sri Lankan sent to hospital during the match, and the remainder of the innings was not to be long in returning to the dressing room.

Mathews dragged an attempted pull shot onto the stumps, Dhammika Prasad followed two consecutive sixes off the bowling of Lyon by skying a vain attempt at a third, and Eranga was cornered by a short-pitcher from Peter Siddle and plopped a catch to Ed Cowan at short leg. The innings had felt as much blood sport as Test match, and like the 1974-75 Englishmen, Sri Lanka were much the bloodier.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sage on December 29, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    SL should give a fight to the Australians. All II can feel is their top 4 players are aging and it's time to bring in the young blood in to the side. Just listen to the Australian commentators and you could learn a lot. I wonder how effective are our coaches in Batting, bowling, fielding? SL dropped so many catches against the Kiwis and now doing with the Aussies. Their batting is very poor. Mahela is just leaking runs when the SL team is fielding. Clarke's fielding set up is immaculate and done lot of home work about the SL cricketers. Guys just look at the tapes. The Aussies are true professionals. Most SL players are so unfit in the field they don't even move and their reflexes are slow. That's why SL dropped many catches. I don't think SL coaches are helpful. You have to be physically fit to play the game 5 days. I think Mahela, Sanga era is over. It's time to move on and get some good coaches too. I'm happy some players are injured so others get to play.

  • Miles on December 28, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    For the past 30 years after gaining the test status, SLC made many millions of dollars, however up to today they haven't addressed the main weakness of SL- building young genuine fast bowlers and genuine swing bowlers as well as helping to build a few good bouncy wickets for school games. This is one reason why many of our batsmen struggle.The other reason why we struggle is not bringing the best players in the Isalnd to the side at the age 18 to 21 yrs regularly since our club standards are poor. They brought Karunaratne at the age 24/25 instead of 3-4 years earlier from SL U19 team. Also since fast bowling is physically demanding in 50-75% of the time, They should build a fast bowling academy for young best fastbowlers in the up country of SL where the altitude is very high however with an ample supply of nutritions and a few coaches & a physio. If these are done properly,I assure SL will be always best cricket team in the world also with a brave, positive and strategic captain.

  • Anthony on December 28, 2012, 23:45 GMT

    @ddlj26 - Good point about the lack of a spin duo to equal England's. However, SA found a way to win there without a spinner, and India's batsmen have slipped even further from when that series was played. Anderson & Finn caused plenty of problems for them (and took wickets) this last tour as well.

  • Cricinfouser on December 28, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    SL_Colombo and Sinhaya, we share your pain and we know it must hurt a lot as evident from aggrieved quality of your posts. SL was exposed to harsh conditions and expectations were over the top for a team that has few good players but they are 35+, and it is not fair to some extent. Thank heavens the next test is not in Perth otherwise there would not be enough fit players left to play six a side. Yes, Srilankan pseudo-english fans are fun to read but it sometimes betrays not enough confidence in their own team.

  • Graham on December 28, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    Front-Foot-Lunge; Not once have I mentioned that we are better than England, I have also said that England outplayed us I am humble in loss maybe you should be humble in victory.

  • Colin on December 28, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    Delusional self righteous Aussies like the oh-so-sensitive little lamb, Marcio and Shaggy are clearly without irony. Please do read the comments of fellow Aussies on these boards if you wish to see bias, tiresome trolling. Aussies dish it out but can't take it. Some perspective needed for you guys I think.

  • Ben on December 28, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    I always get a laugh reading front-foot-lunge, belligerent Aussie bashing without any heed of reality. I think English fans are the ones who are actually cock-a-hoop about beating a very ordinary Asian team (just), not the Australians. We are fully aware that beating Sri Lanka in Australia should be (and was) a doddle. They've never won a test here after all. This Australia team is still building, but we will see how Australia and England really compare come the Ashes. I think it will be closer than the English fans expect.

  • Vikram on December 28, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    If Johnson has actually improved, then kudos to him. But, if Sri Lanka succumbed to a mediocre Johnson, that reveals major problems for the Sri Lankan team.

  • Dale on December 28, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    Haha the England v Aussie stuff here is getting even better than the traditional Pakistan v India battle of words. SL were always going to a hiding in this series - Aussie pitches are very different than what they are use to, something all you Aussie supporters out there seem to miss --- your pitches are unique and its a very large reason for all the Aussie success at home over the last few decades. I would say that the Aussie pitches contribute to Aussie success at home as much as Sub-cont pitches have contributed to theirs. That does not take away at all from Aussie success, its just home advantage and its why winning in Aussie is one of the hardest things to do in cricket. Also Aussie have come of a hard series against SA, so were always going to be fired up for this one especially as they failed against in the killer blow against SA and got a complete hiding in Perth (get over it Marcion ---you got thrashed in Perth). For what its worth, I think Ashes will be very close.

  • manjula on December 28, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    SL lost because of very poor planning than silks. Top administrators should be the first to blame. Plans going in to this tour are bad. Plans are awful that they cannot play Bird who is in his debut. Not enough practice matches. Not picking faster bowlers who can bowl bouncers and yokers. Eranga was exceptional because he did exactly that...he marked 140k most of the times. Not enough practice to duck under the bouncers. This is the case in the last tour to Australia too. Practices to play straight as much as possible were not done. Batsmen failed to place the front foot right...except Sangakara.