Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day

Hussey resists on tough day for Australia's batsmen

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

August 31, 2011

Comments: 97 | Text size: A | A

Australia 273 (Hussey 95, Herath 3-54, Lakmal 3-55) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Hussey goes for the sweep, Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, August 31, 2011
Michael Hussey swept with the spin and kept Australia in the contest © AFP

Smart stats

  • Michael Hussey'a 95 is his fourth score in the nineties and his 25th half-century in Tests. In matches since his debut (November 2005), Hussey's aggregate is second only to that of Ricky Ponting among Australia batsmen.
  • Australia were dismissed for less than 300 for the eighth time in Tests in Sri Lanka. On the previous tour, they were bowled out for 220 in the first innings in Galle but went on to win the Test by 197 runs.
  • Ponting once again failed to convert a good start into a substantial score. In Tests since the start of 2008, his conversion rate of fifties to centuries is just 0.33 whereas in the period from the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2007, the conversion rate was over one (24 centuries and 23 fifties).
  • The 55-run stand for the third wicket between Ponting and Michael Clarke is the sixth half-century stand between the two batsmen in Tests. They have shared three century stands in 24 innings with a highest of 352 against Pakistan in 2010.
  • Rangana Herath's 3 for 54 is his third-best bowling performance against Australia in Tests. His top two performances against Australia came in Colombo (2004) and Galle (1999).
  • Playing in his 40th Test, Prasanna Jayawardene became the third Sri Lanka wicketkeeper after Kumar Sangakkara and Romesh Kaluwitharana to reach the 100-dismissal mark in Tests.

There is a recipe for success against Australia's batsmen. As England have discovered, it involves a generous portion of quality spin bowling and a dollop of reverse swing, while a pinch of variable bounce doesn't hurt. On the first day of the series Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal followed the proven formula to put Sri Lanka on top, but by stumps the visitors had found a stabilising ingredient, Michael Hussey, whose 95 kept them in the game.

Australia could have finished the day with a very nasty taste in their mouth were it not for Hussey, who missed out on his 14th Test century when he was lbw to Tillakaratne Dilshan as the sun set on Galle. The Sri Lanka openers walked out to face one over but the umpires decided the light was insufficient, and the hosts headed back inside to prepare for the second day, knowing that batting wouldn't be easy on a pitch offering plenty of turn.

Hussey handled the conditions better than any of his team-mates, sweeping with the spin, watching the ball closely out of the bowler's hand, and getting to the pitch whenever possible. He had come to the crease at 91 for 3, with rebuilding required, and he did just that in a watchful start; at one point Australia faced 83 balls between boundaries.

Gradually he allowed himself some more expansive shots, and brought up his half-century from his 115th delivery with an off-drive for four off Suraj Randiv. He struck three sixes off Randiv, two convincing and one off which he was fortunate to survive. Chanaka Welegedara at long-off stepped back to take the catch, but just touched the boundary with his foot after he completed the take, which would otherwise have ended Hussey's innings on 76.

By pushing Australia up to 273 after they had been 157 for 5, Hussey gave them hope. The good news for Australia is that the batting conditions won't get any easier and Sri Lanka, unless they post a monstrous first-innings score, will have to bat last. The bad news is that Australia will be relying on an attack featuring two debutants, one of whom, their only frontline spinner Nathan Lyon, has just five first-class matches to his name.

Lyon can learn a lot from the way Herath bowled on this surface. Sri Lanka left out their mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis - a mystery in itself, given how he bamboozled Australia at times in the limited-overs games - but Herath proved a difficult enough opponent in favourable conditions. That much was obvious from the moment he was introduced, in the seventh over of the match.

Shane Watson had come out hard against the seamers, but he was flummoxed by Herath's first delivery. From around the wicket, the left-armer got the ball to drift in, grip and turn sharply on a pitch devoid of grass, and Watson's outside edge was wonderfully taken by one of the best pure gloveman in world cricket at the moment, Prasanna Jayawardene.

From that point on, Australia knew they had a tough day ahead of them. Herath didn't run through the batting order - he finished with 3 for 54 - but nor did he let the batsmen settle. Clarke had used his feet well against the slow men, but on 23 he was done in by a Herath delivery that skidded on, straightening just a fraction, and Clarke was lbw after Sri Lanka reviewed the not-out decision.

And while the big turner got Watson and the straight ball baffled Clarke, Ricky Ponting went to a delivery that fell somewhere in between. Freed from the burden of captaincy, Ponting had played a couple of cracking shots, including a square drive for four off Welegedara and a fleet-footed loft back over the head of Herath.

Soon after that shot, Ponting, on 44, tried the same again but Herath imparted just enough extra spin to deceive Ponting, whose lofted shot ended up going straight to the man at long-off. It was a disappointing end for Ponting, who seemed bent on rebuilding Australia's innings and had put on a 55-run stand with Clarke.

They had come together after Phillip Hughes was surprised by extra bounce from Suranga Lakmal, who caught the shoulder of the bat and had his man caught at slip. It wasn't the only time the Australia batsmen were caught out by fine pace bowling; on the stroke of tea, Usman Khawaja failed to pick the late swing from Welegedara and he was bowled for 21.

Brad Haddin struck a couple of fierce blows in his 24 before he was well taken at leg slip by Angelo Mathews off Randiv, and Lakmal helped finish off the tail. Australia contributed to their own demise, Ryan Harris declining to ask for a review of his lbw, although replays showed Lakmal's delivery would clearly have missed off stump.

Trent Copeland made 12 on debut, but his main task will come on the second day. Wet weather delayed the start by an hour on the opening morning, and more rain is forecast for the next few days. Whether Australia can find a winning recipe remains to be seen. At least the groundstaff have served up a result pitch.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by jfgvjksnkka on (September 1, 2011, 11:58 GMT)

Before we get a spate of comments about hawkeye think about it. Hawkeye only uses the 2 cameras (I assume). the view of the ball is stopped by phil hughes gloves. The view showing the ball turning is shot from a different camera behind the gloves - mystery solved.

Posted by Mathu. on (September 1, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

Reach 270 is like Everest in this pitch condition, knowing that SL senior players are throwing their wickets. what a waste of test cricket.Looks like they have no game plan...come on guys this is your home condition and we expect better play!

Posted by dinkey on (September 1, 2011, 5:37 GMT)

The Lyon has roared can the Sri Lankans COPEland. I don't think so.

Posted by hyclass on (September 1, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

Hmmm....pick the odd one out....rain ruined WI series...rain delaying the start of play in this wagered on rain washing out the series...a bone dry pitch devoid of even grass roots,looking like a strip of rolled beach, surrounded by a lush outfield...I hope it backfires

Posted by popcorn on (September 1, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

Mike Hussey - you are INVALUABLE to us! you saved us at the SCG test against Pakistan - and now here in Sri Lanka. how could ANYBODY think of dropping you? When will youngsters learn? Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh - LEARN, WATCH how he plays. Brad Haddin, come on, score some runs!

Posted by SamRoy on (September 1, 2011, 3:59 GMT)

I agree 100% with @dimitri.samaratunga. Sub-continent wickets are meant to be turning tracks. It's the way sub-continent is. The climatic conditions make them that. Only SSC in Colombo, Karachi , Mohali, Wankhede and Brabourne in Mumbai have some life for pacemen and only on the first day. Playing spin bowling is as essential a part of cricket as playing seam bowling. So, if Perth, Barbados, Headingley, Durban are good for the game so are Premadasa, Green Park (Kanpur), Galle , Kotla (Delhi) and Chepauk(Chennai). If you try to make them friendly for fast bowling they only end being flat tracks and help in boring draws. It's a fact; if you want result oriented pitches for test cricket in sub-continent it has to be a turning track. If it has some assistance for fast bowlers it is an added bonus.

Posted by popcorn on (September 1, 2011, 3:24 GMT)

Why did Ryan Harruis have to act like an extra smart noble walker, when Australia had two reviews left, and he could have asked for a Review - the Review showed he was not out - was he in a hurry to bowl? Is he a team man? Didn't he know Australia needed runs on board?

Posted by Marcio on (September 1, 2011, 3:14 GMT)

270 is a decent score under these conditions. I suspect SL will struggle against Harris, Copeland and co, who have bowling averages in the low to mid 20s. SL's opening pair average high 40s and low 50s respectively, and no other bowler less than 35 per wicket. I can't see how SL can possibly be competitive with this bowling lineup, regardless of how they manipulate pitch conditions. AUS will have to bowl really badly to lose from here.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

And We (Australia) dumped Katich for Hughes because...

Posted by c3vzn on (September 1, 2011, 2:33 GMT)

EVERYBODY WHO SAYS WATSON WASTED HIS WICKET OBVIOUSLY DID NOT WATCH THE GAME. He got done by a beautiful delivery to which he tried to defend.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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