Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 2nd day

Sangakkara guides solid Sri Lanka

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

September 17, 2011

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Sri Lanka 166 for 2 (Sangakkara 61*, M Jayawardene 31*) trail Australia 316 (Hussey 118, Marsh 81, Eranga 4-65, Welegedara 3-75) by 150 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Michael Hussey reached his century off 157 balls, Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, SSC, Colombo, 2nd day, September 17, 2011
Michael Hussey made his fourth Test hundred against Sri Lanka © AFP

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  • Michael Hussey's 118 is his fourth century in the subcontinent and brings him level third on the list of Australia batsmen with the most centuries in Asia. However, Hussey's average of 61.38 is the highest among Australia batsmen with 1000-plus runs in the subcontinent.
  • Hussey became the 17th Australia batsman to score over 5000 runs in Tests. His average of 52.84 is fourth on the list of Australia batsmen with 5000-plus runs.
  • Hussey now has four centuries against Sri Lanka, the highest for an Australia batsman. His average of 111.50 is the highest among batsmen with 500-plus runs against Sri Lanka.
  • Shaminda Eranga's 4 for 65 is the fifth-best bowling performance by a Sri Lanka bowler on debut. Upul Chandana's six-wicket haul against Pakistan in 1999 remains the best debut bowling performance by a Sri Lanka.
  • Kumar Sangakkara is 39 runs away from becoming the seventh batsman to score a century in his 100th Test. No Sri Lanka player has achieved this feat so far.
  • Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene average 123.61 runs per partnership at the SSC, with five century stands in 14 innings, including their record stand of 624 against South Africa in 2006.

There are few things Kumar Sangakkara has failed to achieve in Test cricket. As he walked off the SSC ground on the second afternoon of his 100th Test, he would have felt that one of those unfulfilled goals - playing in a win over Australia - was one step closer. Sangakkara has tasted victory against every other Test nation, and while plenty of work remains in this match, it could be his best chance to complete the set.

On a day that started with Michael Hussey's 15th Test century and a four-wicket haul from the debutant Shaminda Eranga, Sri Lanka finished at a comfortable 166 for 2. They still trailed Australia by 150 runs, but with Sangakkara looking composed on 61 and Mahela Jayawardene on 31, Sri Lanka could certainly dream of building a first-innings lead.

The pair had put on 68, but on a surface offering little for the bowlers, there was no reason that figure couldn't expand significantly on the third day. Sangakkara brought up his half-century from his 86th delivery, with a slashing cut to the boundary off Mitchell Johnson, one ball after he sent a similarly short and wide ball to the rope.

He and Jayawardene had come together after the loss of Tharanga Paranavitana, who on 46 drove Johnson off the meat of the bat, only to see Ricky Ponting at short cover take a terrific catch. Paranavitana had already survived one of the closest lbw reviews seen under the DRS, when on 14 he was given not out by Aleem Dar.

Australia wanted the decision checked, and while Trent Copeland's delivery had pitched in line and was striking off stump, a fraction less than half the ball was hitting the middle of the stump, saving the batsman. The only early breakthrough came when Peter Siddle, playing his first Test of the tour, sneaked through the defence of Lahiru Thirimanne.

On 28, Thirimanne was beaten by a good fullish delivery that straightened off the pitch and rattled the stumps. It was a reward for consistently good bowling from Siddle, although the visitors had missed the injured Ryan Harris with the new ball.

Australia wanted early wickets after they reached a competitive but far from imposing total of 316 in the first session, when Hussey continued his remarkable series by bringing up his second hundred of the series. Sri Lanka's new fast bowler Eranga removed Hussey shortly before lunch to finish with four wickets on debut.

Australia added 81 to their overnight score for the loss of their final five wickets, as Eranga and Chanaka Welegedara bowled well and found some swing. But the star of the session was Hussey, who at 36 is in the kind of form he displayed at the start of his Test career. The Man of the Match in the first two Tests, he also gave himself a strong chance of complete a clean-sweep.

Hussey brought up his hundred with a single clipped off his pads off Rangana Herath from his 157th delivery, and it continued an incredible streak against Sri Lanka. In the five Tests he has played against the Sri Lankans, the only match in which Hussey has failed to post a century was the first Test of this series in Galle, where he made 95.

He also became the fifth-fastest Australian to reach 5000 Test runs, getting there in his 107th innings, slower only than Don Bradman, Matthew Hayden, Neil Harvey and Greg Chappell. He reached that milestone with a pair of boundaries cut through point off Welegedara, but for a while it looked like Hussey was in danger of being stranded on 99.

While Hussey waited for his hundred, he watched on as Johnson pushed tamely to point off Welegedara and Siddle edged to slip from the next ball. Fortunately for Hussey, Copeland survived the hat-trick ball and provided adequate support, at least, until Welegedara's next over, when he was taken at slip by Mahela Jayawardene.

But by then, Hussey had reached his century, and the goal was simply to push the total as high as possible with the final partnership with Nathan Lyon. Hussey lofted a six over long-on off Herath, before on 118 he was tricked by a slower ball and played on, completing a fine debut performance from Eranga, who finished with 4 for 65.

Eranga had picked up the first wicket of the day when a very good outswinger was adjudged to have caught the edge of Brad Haddin's bat when he was on 35. Haddin looked surprised by the decision and asked for a review, but there was a slight noise as the ball passed the bat and there was certainly no evidence to reprieve him.

Haddin had struck six boundaries in his innings, but mixed in several plays and misses with his successes. In the end, he was simply outclassed by a fine delivery from Eranga. And if Australia's bowlers are outclassed by Sangakkara and Jayawardene, a drawn series is a distinct possibility.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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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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