Second Test

Australia v Sri Lanka 2007-08

Mike Coward

At Hobart, November 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2007. Australia won by 96 runs. Toss: Australia.

Until Kumar Sangakkara finally made his presence felt on the fourth day, Sri Lanka's attitude and performance were similar to what they had produced at Brisbane. There seemed a collective sense of resignation from the moment Ponting won the toss and batted on a pitch so hard and flat that inevitably it inflicted damage on reputations as well as bodies and minds, and Australia duly collected their 14th successive Test victory. The Australians initially reprised their Gabba performance. Again they ran up more than 500 - this time for the loss of five wickets - and again Jaques and Hussey scored hundreds. That Clarke fell 29 runs short of another century and Gilchrist got to the crease for a delightful cameo were the only noteworthy variations. Gilchrist had time to become the first player to hit 100 sixes in Tests, the landmark one off Muralitharan flying outside the ground, where it was collared by a red-jacketed opportunist, sparking a nationwide search when Gilchrist declared that he would like to keep the ball (it was eventually returned).

Malinga, recalled in the place of the unfortunate Vaas (who, struggling with a shoulder injury, doubted whether he could get through what would have been his 100th Test), was at times erratic and expensive, but at least he had the gumption to question the might of the Australians. So too did Mahela Jayawardene, who led from the front with a delightful century, his 19th in Tests but his first in ten matches against Australia, after imploring his charges to show more character. However, aside from Sangakkara, who had missed the First Test because of a hamstring injury, no one heeded his cri de coeur, and Sri Lanka survived for only 363 minutes - just 34 minutes longer than Jaques was at the crease for his 150.

Using his local knowledge, Ponting did not enforce the follow-on this time, and along with Jaques scored a half-century before setting Sri Lanka 507 for victory. That for a few wild and wonderful moments they flirted with the possibility of the most remarkable of achievements was entirely due to the extraordinary skills and daring of Sangakkara. Such was his command that by stumps on the fourth day Sri Lanka had reached 247 for three, and for the first time the restructured Australian attack exhibited some nervousness and uncertainty.

Atapattu broke off from composing his letter of resignation to contribute an authoritative 80, and with Jayasuriya still at the crease the last day began with the prospect of a legitimate contest for the first time in the series. The early dismissal of Jayasuriya by the rampant Lee provided a reality check, but still Sangakkara refused to accept defeat against an attack weakened by the impotence of MacGill, who was plagued by knee and shoulder injuries. Sangakkara batted for 431 minutes, and smote 27 fours and a six in an unforgettable 192: he was only deprived of a seventh double-Malinga, recalled in the place of the unfortunate Vaas (who, struggling with a shoulder injury, doubted whether he could get through what would have been his 100th Test), was at times erratic and expensive, but at least he had the gumption to question the might of the Australians. So too did Mahela Jayawardene, who led from the front with a delightful century, his 19th in Tests but his first in ten matches against Australia, after imploring his charges to show more character. However, aside from Sangakkara, who had missed the First Test because of a hamstring injury, no one heeded his cri de coeur, and Sri Lanka survived for only 363 minutes - just 34 minutes longer than Jaques was at the crease for his 150.

Using his local knowledge, Ponting did not enforce the follow-on this time, and along with Jaques scored a half-century before setting Sri Lanka 507 for victory. That for a few wild and wonderful moments they flirted with the possibility of the most remarkable of achievements was entirely due to the extraordinary skills and daring of Sangakkara. Such was his command that by stumps on the fourth day Sri Lanka had reached 247 for three, and for the first time the restructured Australian attack exhibited some nervousness and uncertainty.

Atapattu broke off from composing his letter of resignation to contribute an authoritative 80, and with Jayasuriya still at the crease the last day began with the prospect of a legitimate contest for the first time in the series. The early dismissal of Jayasuriya by the rampant Lee provided a reality check, but still Sangakkara refused to accept defeat against an attack weakened by the impotence of MacGill, who was plagued by knee and shoulder injuries. Sangakkara batted for 431 minutes, and smote 27 fours and a six in an unforgettable 192: he was only deprived of a seventh double-century - and the distinction of being the first man ever to reach 200 in three successive Tests - by poor umpiring. Rudi Koertzen decided that he had made contact with a rising delivery from Clark, which deflected from his shoulder and then his helmet before ballooning into the slips. As Ponting prepared to accept the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy, Koertzen publicly apologised to Sangakkara.

Man of the match: B. Lee. Man of the Series: B. Lee. Attendance: 27,634.

Close of play: First day, Australia 329-3 (Hussey 101, Clarke 8); Second day, Sri Lanka 30-0 (Atapattu 18, Vandort 12); Third day, Australia 111-1 (Jaques 53, Ponting 7); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 247-3 (Sangakkara 109, Jayasuriya 33).

© John Wisden & Co.