Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 3rd day September 18, 2011

A wrestling match and a lucky catch

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

The wrestle
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.

The assist
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.

The record
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 ESPNcricinfo

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  • Randika on September 19, 2011, 3:10 GMT

    Nice contest looming!! Very happy that so much top class cricket was in evidence this season so far! Clarke did well, defending stoutly and not letting the SL batting machine dictate terms to him! That being said, the equilibrium can be broken if SL score 150 runs in the morning session and let Aussie bat trailing 260 odd in the first innings. I should think there would be sufficient grip for the spinners in this track on day 4-5 plus a bit of decent bounce. Hussey will be key again for Aussies. May the best side win!

  • Mike on September 19, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    The problem i see with Mitch is he is so 1 dimensional.. With no swing or use of the seam he has such a limited arsenal that when batsmen arent scared of his pace they just use it and place his balls wherever they want.

    The only thing he has going for him is his supreme fitness. Which i think has kept him going. But too often have we carried him. I dont see that happening to bollinger at the moment.. And even bollinger can bat better than mitch right now. Johnson has looked worse than the number 11 from sri lanka with the bat. Time to say your out until you can improve your arsenal. because this form is the same as the ashes losing form you gave us last time.

  • Andrew on September 18, 2011, 23:18 GMT

    Good contest by SL & Oz. Sl definately in the advantage, all will depend on a) when/if Dilshan declares & b) how well Oz bat in the 2nd innings. I would imagine the pitch will NOT wear much as it hasn't had a great deal of traffic & it was primed for a little more juice. Should hold well. That being said Oz will need to remember the application they had earlier in the series. == == == @Marcio - Oz do deserve to win the series but sport can be very cruel! A strong fight like what SL did in the 2nd innings in the 2nd test should see the Lankans off. If we fail to draw this test (assuming its unwinnable from here), it would be FULL CREDIT to SL for digging in & Dilshan will get a lot of the credit. I didn't rate him, he got lucky by winning the toss, but sending Oz in was a brave move. I won't like it, but I'd applaud SL on a job well done if they square the series. Should be 1nil to Oz though.

  • Marcio on September 18, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    I hope that AUS bat sensibly in the second innings. It would be a travesty of justice if they didn't win this series. As long as they do bat sensibly, the game should be a draw. The pitch is as flat as Heathrow and the SL attack is quite tame, without notable spinners and 'soft' fast bowlers.

    Speaking of soft, Mitch Johnson has got to be given his marching orders. We have better and younger bowlers than him. Time to give them a go. He leaked runs all day, as usual, and looked as threatening as a teddy bear. But I suppose they will take him to SA, living on memories of past glories. You can't keep guys in the team on this basis. It's just dumb.

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