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

Edgy Mathews escapes Bird trap

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

The dismissal
Halfway through the first over of the second innings, Sri Lanka contrived a dismissal that betrayed their disturbed mental state. Dimuth Karunaratne went back to punch Mitchell Johnson towards cover, and though he had found a gap, he had not timed the ball well enough to truly pierce the infield. Two men gave chase and reeled the ball in, but Karunaratne, intent on two, turned and began charging towards the striker's end even as the throw was already on its way. Mitchell Johnson had to move well away from the stumps to collect the throw but, even so, he had time to remove the bails with Karunaratne comfortably short.

The blow
Johnson had already embellished his reputation as a bowler who inflicts injuries on batsman on day one when he fractured Prasanna Jayawardene's thumb, and although Jayawardene's loss hurt Sri Lanka in the field, Johnson may have put Sri Lanka at an even greater disadvantage for remainder of the tour by taking out their best batsman on day three. Kumar Sangakkara moved his hands up to fend away a Johnson bouncer at an almost identical height to the one that caused Jayawardene's distress, and managed only to get his left index finger wedged in between the ball and the bat handle. As soon as he crossed for a single, Sangakkara called for treatment, and the swelling on his hand was dramatic enough to warrant his exiting the field. X-rays revealed a fracture to his left index finger, and he will be out of action for at least six weeks.

The drop
Jackson Bird had found Angelo Mathews' edge with frustrating regularity, but Mathews had avoided being caught behind, largely by picking gaps in the slip cordon and hitting the ball down, so it landed short. When an edge eventually carried though, Shane Watson at gully wasn't up to holding on, shelling the chance as he fell to his right. The reprieve did not kill the trend though, and Mathews continued to edge Bird towards the slips until he played Johnson onto his stumps at the other end.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • associate cricket fan on December 29, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    @matchfixerpkn. Sanga doesnt need to avoid any test match. He averages 50 in this series. He injured his finger in the last test match and he wont be able to play cricket for 6 weeks. If he wants to avoid playing in Aus, he could have done it before the start of the series.

  • shyam on December 29, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    so smart players like sangakara avoided next test match will keep his avarage high :)

  • nick on December 28, 2012, 23:03 GMT

    considering sri lanka have 4 world class batsmen and a couple of other highly touted ones this is really not good enough, especially when you see how depleted the aussie fast bowling stocks are at the minute

    SIDDLE Pattinson Hilfenhouse Cummins Harris Starc JOHNSON Hazlewood BIRD

    Ridiculous to see a team make 250 over two innings against that kind of attack coupled with an average spinner and an injured all rounder.

  • mahesh on December 28, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    Arriving in Australia a week before the first test and having a long break in Melbourne before the boxing day test match drinking and partying with the Lankan community doesn't prepare a national team for a game of test cricket. 65000 fans turned up to see a world class event and went home dissapointed by the middle of third day. Players and administrators have to take responsibility for this debacle and prepare the best 11 players for the Sydney test now that few of the guys are out with injury. They owe it to the fans and the country.

  • Matt on December 28, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    @FFL, um yeah, Mitch bowled pretty well this test. I've been a critical and derogatory about mitch's lack of accuracy and I-want-my-mum softness before, but if you actually watched this game, and not just post unfunny 2 year old taunts...

  • manjula on December 28, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    These are great comments which SLC board will never understand. If SLC need money, play the basic cricket (Test Cricket) right. If not ODI & T20s for SL going to get the same results and no one will watch any matches. Built a more test reputation. If SL play test cricket right more money will come from Aus, Eng and SA. They will be in Pounds, Euros, Rands, or Dollars; in addition to Indian Rupees. I said this way because this is only language that SL administrators understand. Then Send basic competative team to Canada and US to collect more dollars. That is how you generate revenue.

  • j on December 28, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    We all know how Sri Lanka have fallen to with their board, are well past it, and had to bat minus three top order injured batsmen but to lose to an attack as poor as this is humiliating for Sri Lanka. The fact that Mitch "He bowls to the left, he bowls to the riigghtt..." Johnson took some wickets made me fall off my chair laughing, that really tickles :)

  • Dinesh on December 28, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    isn't administrator to blame for such debacles? We fans want test cricket to be of highest quality, but admin guys uses it as a build up for ODI's and T20. Even when we toured, there were hardly 1-2 practice matches. These are never sufficient when you are going from low & slow pitches to fast & bouncy one. What if they conduct one-days prior to Test series & use them as build up? Normally core of the team (5-7 players) play both formats and will get better used to pitches after play 5-6 matches (practice games+one days). I know this is not gonna happen because guys at the top see revenue and a fan like me who want to see a contest will always see the purest of form of the game for joy.

  • Rahul on December 28, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    Test didn't last even 3 days that shows how good. Mahela Sanga and company is. Great players like Sachin Lara had always scored tons of runs against mighty AUS but Sanga and company can't handle siddle and company then how these SL players r great

  • John on December 28, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    The warning signs were there when SL was bundled out by England in less than 25 overs last year to lose a test on the afternoon of day 5. This is a side with 4 very good batsmen, all of whom are 35 or older, and hardly anything else; one test class bowler (Herath, who is 34), a middle-order batsman who bowls a bit but has never taken more than one wicket in an innings (Mathews) and that's it. Only Chandimal of the young players looks as though he might make a test cricketer. Sri Lanka is going to face real problems being competitive when they next play test cricket, unfortunately (given the age of their best players) almost a year from now.

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