2nd Test, Canberra, February 01 - 04, 2019, Sri Lanka tour of Australia
534/5d & 196/3d
(T:516) 215 & 149

Australia won by 366 runs

Player Of The Match
5/54 & 5/46
Player Of The Series
14 wkts

Burns and Head hundreds end Australia's barren spell and flay toothless Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka claimed three early wickets to leave the home side in trouble but their day got steadily worse from there

Joe Burns brought up his fourth Test hundred, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Canberra, February 1, 2019

Joe Burns brought up his fourth Test hundred  •  Getty Images

Australia 4 for 384(Burns 172*, Patterson 25*) v Sri Lanka
Joe Burns creamed Australia's first Test hundred of the summer, ending the day in sight of a double, Travis Head cracked a big maiden ton himself before Kurtis Patterson played himself in against the second new ball, and as Australia finished day one of the first ever Test at Manuka Oval on 4 for 384, it was difficult to believe that they had been 3 for 28 in the first hour.
That Burns and Head were able to motor Australia to such an emphatic recovery through their 308-run stand after the first 10 overs had been so dire, is testament not only to their positivity and concentration, but also to the serious limitations of this Sri Lanka attack, on what seemed a rapidly-flattening pitch. With spearhead Suranga Lakmal ruled out of this Test with a stiff back, Sri Lanka lost all three of the quicks that played at the Gabba (Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara had already returned home with series-ending injuries), and were forced instead to rely on a profoundly inexperienced seam attack.
Kasun Rajitha, with three previous Tests to his name, provided the most discipline from among the frontline quicks, but could not muster a breakthrough in his 20 overs. Vishwa Fernando, who had played two previous Tests, claimed the wickets of two left-handers in his first spell, and later trapped Head in front of the stumps for 161, but went at over five runs an over. Chamika Karunaratne removed Marnus Labuschagne with his fourth ball in international cricket, but was toothless once the early swing and seam had disappeared, and was thumped around to the tune of over a run-a-ball over his 14 overs.
So rapidly did Australia advance during the second and third sessions, that at times in the day, their run rate would have been excellent in an ODI. In the 16 overs between the 57th and 73rd, for example, 110 runs were made - a rate of 6.88. Only the wicket of Head right at the end of that period brought Sri Lanka some mild reprieve. That dismissal, also, was more the result of a lapse in concentration from Head, than of good bowling.
Burns, who finished the day on 172 not out off 243 balls, cautiously gritted out the first 15 overs, while at the other end, Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja fell driving loosely at Fernando outswingers. Eventually, when the swing disappeared, and he was joined at the crease by Head following Labuschagne's dismissal, Burns warmed rapidly to his work, taking especial pleasure in cracking the quicks square of the wicket on the offside, whenever they offered even a hint of width.
All day long, he picked them off in that area, 15 of his 27 fours coming in the arc between cover and backward point. He was dropped once, at slip on on 34, trying to punch offspinner Dilruwan Perera too close to the body, but was largely secure apart from that indiscretion. The pull shot also featured heavily in his innings, as Sri Lanka's bowlers continued to dig balls in short. Twice, he also came down the pitch against Dilruwan to hit him to the straight boundary.
Left-hander Head was also strong square on his off side, but also found the midwicket region bountiful - particularly when the short-pitched bowling on a slow track failed to surprise him as the bowlers had hoped. He was perhaps the better rotator of strike in the mammoth fourth-wicket partnership - the best of its kind for Australia against Sri Lanka - and was the better driver as well, playing a particularly memorable straight drive off the back foot off Chamika for four early in his innings, as well as two on-drives for four later on.
Although it is difficult to take too harsh a view on this attack, green as they are, Sri Lanka will rue the catching errors that returned to their game, after three decent Tests from a fielding perspective, in New Zealand and Brisbane. They had four clear-cut chances that they spurned. The first, of course was Burns' reprieve, when Dhananjaya de Silva at slip failed to hold on to a shoulder-height catch in the half hour before lunch. Then just before tea Dilruwan, at gully, grassed a slash from Head, who was 87 at the time. De Silva would go on to drop Head again after tea - that mistake costing Sri Lanka no more than six runs.
Then, soon after Head departed, perhaps the worst error of the day. When Patterson offered a straightforward bat-pad chance to short leg off the first delivery he faced, Lahiru Thirimanne grabbed at the ball, let it hit him on the wrist, then drop to the floor. Patterson would go on to finish at 25 not out off 48 balls, having seen through the first 10 overs of the second new ball, and having forged a partnership worth 48 so far, with Burns.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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