Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 2nd day September 17, 2011

A stitch in time and lightning reflexes

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the second day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and Australia, in Colombo

The lbw

It looked out. Tharanga Paranavitana, on 14, played around a Trent Copeland delivery that straightened down the line of off stump after pitching on middle and a sustained appeal was refused by Aleem Dar after a moment's thought. What happened next was the luckiest of reprieves for the batsman, as Australia's referral found the ball striking off stump all but flush. However under the terms of the system, the ball must be doing better than that in order to overturn the original call, and Paranavitana survived - by the width of a stitch.

The steel trap

Ricky Ponting's batting may be in a state of some uncertainty but his work in the field remains sabre-sharp. Paranavitana's stay was ended by a magnificent catch at short extra cover, Ponting's third snare in front of the wicket for the series. As with Tillakaratne Dilshan's exit on the second day of the series, Paranavitana lifted a drive and struck it powerfully, only to see his stroke intercepted by Ponting. His reactions were far quicker than the eyes of observers, as the sound and feel of the shot saw most scanning the cover boundary. Instead, Paranavitana had to depart, confounded by one of the great cover/midwicket fielders of the age.

The caught behind

Brad Haddin had made his most convincing start with the bat all series when, on 35, he was given out caught behind off the bowling of Shaminda Eranga. It was perhaps this, as much as any genuine doubts about whether or not he had hit the ball, that caused Haddin to stay and ask for a review. There seemed an audible noise, bat and ball were nowhere near anything else and the Sri Lanka fielders went up as one. The television replays, once Haddin reviewed Tony Hill's decision, demonstrated little other than the fact that bat and ball were very close together, and the finger was raised a second time. Haddin has managed only 60 runs at 15 in four Test innings on tour.

The century

Michael Hussey's 15th Test century arrived with a legside deflection after Australia had slipped to eight wickets down. His second century in as many matches, it was also Hussey's fourth since the start of the Ashes series last summer. Such a record stands out amid the general under-performance that has surrounded it - among the rest of the batsman only Haddin and Shaun Marsh, with a century each, have passed three figures in the past eight Tests. Those to have failed to pass three figures in that time include Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson. Even if Australia secure a series victory in Sri Lanka, this imbalance will continue to burden the team.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo