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ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the third day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and Australia, in Colombo
September 18, 2011
On perhaps the most important day of the series, Australia showed their fighting intentions early. Ricky Ponting and the fitness trainer Stuart Karppinen were seen locked in a good-natured but nonetheless intense wrestling match during warm-ups. Ponting's is a powerful little frame, while Karppinen's physical sharpness was underlined in Pallekele when he ran from the team hotel to the ground, a journey of about 7km and often uphill, in less than 30 minutes. The wrestling match leaned towards Ponting first, then Karppinen, before the two combatants agreed to call a truce - play was soon to start.
The new ball
When Peter Siddle extracted hitherto unseen bounce and movement from the SSC pitch to send Kumar Sangakkara back to the dressing-room, he celebrated heartily. There were reasons for this beyond the importance of the wicket. For a new-ball bowler, Siddle has had remarkably little success with it lately. Throughout the Ashes, and the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe that followed in mid-year, not once did Siddle claim a wicket with his first spell of an innings; a perverse record for a fast bowler. This lack of incisiveness with the new ball contrasts with the efforts of Ryan Harris on this trip, and was perhaps one cause for the adjustment in length that Siddle was encouraged to make before this Test.
It is often said that by choosing to stand up to the stumps, a wicketkeeper can rob himself of potential chances available further back. In the case of Brad Haddin, the choice to get up close to keep to Trent Copeland meant he was able to grasp one that most probably would have scuttled away along the ground otherwise. Tillakaratne Dilshan opened his bat face to run the ball down towards third man, but managed only to deflect the shot into Haddin's thigh. The ball jumped fortuitously up towards Haddin's gloves, and was eventually secured in a jumble of hands, legs and stomach. Not one of Haddin's most elegant takes, but certainly among his more opportunistic.
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakarra had been expected to stay in for far longer than they managed on the third day, but their exits allowed the newer leadership pair of Dilshan and Angelo Mathews to notch up a record. The stand of 121 was a fifth-wicket record for Sri Lanka against Australia, bettering the 116 added by Arjuna Ranatunga and Hashan Tillakaratne against Allan Border's tourists in Moratuwa in 1992. That series ended as a rain-affected 1-0 victory to Australia, but Dilshan and Mathews' union went some way towards ensuring that a similar result could be avoided in 2011.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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