On a wicket with uneven bounce that also supported massive spin the Sri Lankan batsmen proceeded to perform “hara kiri” in a manner that was as comical as disastrous. The second innings scoreline of 113 runs underlines the disaster; but does not quite capture the astounding manner in which some of the batsmen contibuted to their dismissal — though one must also record the competent fielding (catched by Labushagne and Swepson) and intelligent bowling).
A Samurai about to commit “seppuku” or “hara-kiri”
Swepson acclaims his wicket
Dimuth Karunaratne: c Carey b Lyon 23 5.3 Bottom edge, given! Went for the sweep from outside off and gets a thin tickle. Neatly done from Carey who has done well in tough conditions behind the stumps. Australia have their first | 37 for 1
Pathum Nissanka: lbw b Swepson 14 6.5 Big appeal and given lbw! Nissanka goes for the sweep and misses. Looks very straight but he reviews. Pitches middle, straightens a touch, takes the back leg. Not sure this will be missing. And it’s clipping off stump. Not stone dead, but will stay out | 39 for 2
Kusal Mendis: c Swepson b Lyon 8 11.1 Top edge, taken at deep backward square! Sweeps again, can’t keep it down, Swepson settles under it nicely in that well-positioned spot which is in from the boundary. Excellent from Cummins and Lyon. There won’t be a Mendis special today | 59 for 3
Oshada Fernando: c Smith b Swepson 12 12.2 Is that caught at slip? Oshada goes for the drive to one tossed up outside off and gets a thick edge to slip. Taken cleanly but Oshada thinks it’s a bump ball. Aussie’s are confident though, and turns out they were right, as replays show this takes a clean edge through to the keeper. That’s another one for Swepson, and the Aussies are ripping through this Lankan batting line-up | 63 for 4
Dinesh Chandimal: b Head 11 18.2 Blimey! He’s cleaned him up! What an absolute ripper, and Chandimal just stands there in disbelief before eventually walking off. This spun a mile from outside off, right through the gap between bat and pad as Chandimal looked to push this gently towards cover. A delivery Murali himself would have been proud of! | 95 for 5
Dhananjaya de Silva: lbw b Head 11 18.5 Huge appeal for lbw here! Given not out, but Head is convinced and they review this. And my word this is close, as Dhananjaya chooses to leave this sharp off spinning delivery alone, but ends up getting struck right in front of middle and leg. And yes, he is a goner! Three reds! | 96 for 6
Ramesh Mendis: c Khawaja b Lyon 3 19.4 And another one bites the dust! Mendis goes for the sweep this time, but only manages a top edge down to deep fine leg, who’s a few yards in from the boundary for just this type of stroke | 97 for 7
Niroshan Dickwella: c Labuschagne b Lyon 3 21.2 And Dickwella goes! No repeat of his first innings heroics here, as he goes for the reverse sweep and gets a low top edge towards Marnus at cover, who dives full length to his left to hold on to good low take | 108 for 8
Jeffrey Vandersay: b Head 8 22.1 And Head has his third! Again with a ripper through bat and pad, as Vandersay goes for the forward defence but ends up with his stumps disturbed. This is a beaut of a ball, just clipping the top of leg | 108 for 9
Lasith Embuldeniya lbw b Head 0 22.5 Is that the innings wrapped up?! This is tossed up from Head on middle and leg, and it beats the bat as the batter looks to work this onside. He’s struck on the front pad and given not out, Australia review. This could be going down leg, but has it straightened enough? Yes, yes it has! Three reds as this is shown to hit leg. And Sri Lanka are all out for 113!
Andrew Fidel Fernando’s Report on the Third Day of the Test Match at Galle … at ESPNcricinfo …..“Pat Cummins lauds ‘brave’ Australia for facing challenge head on”
Being proactive. Being brave. And embracing the challenge of playing on spinning surfaces. According to captain Pat Cummins, these were the tenets of Australia’s success in Galle, where they crushed Sri Lanka inside two-and-a-half days.
Proactive and brave, because Australia had scored at 4.53 in the 70.1 overs they’d batted in the first innings, even though they’d been 100 for 4 at one stage. The sixth-wicket partnership between Cameron Green and Alex Carey was a particular example of the urgency Australia brought to their batting. They put on 84 runs off 93 balls, and advanced Australia’s chances substantially on a rain-curtailed second day.
“A couple of new words we’re using about our approach is about being proactive and being brave,” Cummins said after the match. “We saw some really clear methods from all the batters. They might have been individually a bit different, but you saw everyone being really proactive, and putting pressure back on the bowlers. It’s something you’d normally talk about in one-day cricket or T20 cricket. But I think that’s the style over here that’s needed.”
A more aggressive approach brings risk too, however. While Usman Khawaja, Green, and Carey produced substantial innings, others, like Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, were out cheaply, attacking. For Cummins, though, failure is just a part of this approach.
“I think it’s part of the environment that we are trying to create,” he said. “Failure is absolutely okay, as long as you are failing in a way you are happy to be.”
“I think I wouldn’t discount our batters in our squad that have been here. They know what works. All of them have had success in these types of wickets, so having them as great reference points for the young guys and seeing them go out and do it – I don’t have to do anything as captain really.”
Eight months into his captaincy, Cummins’ side has also gone undefeated in four successive Tests in Asia, having won two of those games. The Australia of 2022 is no longer so wary of spinning conditions, Cummins said. Even the senior players are being pushed to develop their games further.
“Embracing everything about the conditions – that’s been a big one for us. In the past you can get caught up in conditions that aren’t like Australia, but if you want to be the number one Test team in the world, you’ve got be winning overseas. I think everyone – the experienced guys finding new shots, Mitchell Starc working on reverse swing, Nathan Lyon coming up with a few new balls – there is so much appetite to learn and be successful on these wickets.”
Lyon was instrumental to this victory, having taken 5 for 90 in the first innings, then 4 for 31 in the second. Through the course of this game, he also surpassed three bowling greats on the all-time wicket tally. He now sits 10th on that list with 436 wickets, just ahead of Rangana Herath, Kapil Dev, and Richard Hadlee.
“I wouldn’t change Lyon for anyone,” Cummins said. “He’s gone into the top 10 wicket takers of all time. You saw him out there. He’s unplayable for left or right-handers. Sometimes out here, bounce for spinners is spoken about something that’s not desirable, but he showed here with that bounce he was unplayable. His stamina as well – you give him the ball from one end and say see you at the end of the day.”
Alex Malcolm’s Report in ESPNcricinfo: “Travis Head and Nathan Lyon rip through Sri Lanka to secure huge win” ……….. The home side collapsed inside 23 overs as the match ended before lunch on the third day”
Australia’s spinners tore through Sri Lanka’s line-up as they lost 10 wickets inside 23 overs in a staggering collapse to lose the opening Test in Galle inside two-and-a-half days.Nathan Lyon and Travis Head took four wickets each and Mitchell Swepson two, as Sri Lanka were bundled out for 113. Australia needed just five runs to win and knocked them off with ease to win by 10 wickets before lunch on the third day and go 1-0 up in the series.
It was Australia’s first Test win in Sri Lanka since 2011, which was also the last time they won in Galle. It was also the first time Australia have won in Sri Lanka batting second, with their seven other wins coming batting first. Sri Lanka’s defeat was just the fourth time a team had lost in Galle in the 21 instances teams had won the toss and batted first. Sri Lanka have suffered three of those four losses in the last 18 months.
Lyon finished with nine wickets for the match and marched into the all-time top 10 Test wickets-takers, while Head took stunning career-best first-class and Test figures of 4 for 10. Such was the spinners’ dominance, captain Pat Cummins did not bowl a ball in Sri Lanka’s second innings. Despite Lyon’s performance, Cameron Green was named Player of the Match for his vital 77 on day two on a difficult batting surface.
Sri Lanka’s batting was reckless and hapless as they tried to follow Australia’s first innings approach of positivity and decisive strokeplay. But the decision-making and execution was flawed on a surface that spun more and more by the minute throughout a crazy two hours of cricket.
Sri Lanka were without their most experienced and in-form batter Angelo Mathews after he was ruled out of the Test having tested positive for Covid-19 last night. Mathews took a rapid test after feeling unwell and the positive result meant he was withdrawn from the game on the third morning and replaced by Oshada Fernando.
Sri Lanka did make the perfect start to the day with the ball, bowling Australia out for 321 in the second over of the morning. Asitha Fernando ripped through Cummins and Swepson with two superb reverse swinging yorkers at 137kph. Asitha benefitted from a ball change after Sri Lanka’s original ball was pocketed by a spectator last night when Cummins hit Jeffrey Vandersay out of the ground off the last ball of the second day.
They made a rapid start to their second innings taking 17 runs off Mitchell Starc’s opening over. It was the most expensive opening over in Test cricket in the last 10 years as Starc’s radar went awry to gift Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne four boundaries between them. Starc’s spell lasted two overs and cost 23. Lyon opened the bowling from the other end and bowled unchanged while Swepson came on in the fifth over.
Sri Lanka’s batters tried to continue their positive approach but it bordered on reckless as they lost wickets at regular intervals and offered numerous other chances. Lyon picked up Karunaratne for the second time in the match as the left-hander tried to sweep the wrong length. His thin under edge was expertly held by keeper Alex Carey.
Nissanka also fell trying to sweep, trapped lbw to Swepson as a legbreak skidded on straight and hit him on the back leg infront of off.
Kusal Mendis and Oshada tried to maintain the aggression. Mendis slapped a powerful slog sweep to get off the mark while Oshada launched Swepson straight down the ground for six. But they failed to pick their moments to attack. Both men were missed at leg slip off Lyon with Warner unable to clutch two very tough chances in three balls. But it mattered little. Mendis fell sweeping to the wrong length. Some extra bounce caused a top edge that carried to a very well-placed Swepson three-quarters of the way to the fine-leg rope.
Oshada continued to ride his luck miscuing balls in the air short of fielders before driving hard at a Swepson legbreak out of the rough outside off and nicking it to slip.
Dhananjaya de Silva was fortunate to survive a stumping chance after running randomly at Lyon and being beaten through the gate, with Carey unable to glove it. Cummins then made the bold move to swap Swepson for the part-time offspin of Head against the two right-handers.
It paid a handsome dividend with Head striking twice in his first over. He ripped a classic offbreak out of the rough and through the flawed defence of Dinesh Chandimal to crash into middle and leg. Three balls later Dhananjaya staggeringly shouldered arms to a ball also spinning into middle and leg thinking it might turn down the leg side. The only thing more shocking than the leave was Kumar Dharmasena’s decision to give it not out. Australia had no hesitation in reviewing successfully.
Ramesh Mendis fell the same way as Kusal, top edging a poorly executed sweep to fine leg. Niroshan Dickwella tried to continue his reverse-sweeping deeds of the first innings only to find cover point with Marnus Labuschagne taking an outstanding catch diving to his left.
Head picked up two more in his third over. He ripped another stunning offbreak from the rough through Vandersay’s defence to hit the top of leg. Lasith Embuldeniya was the last out, trapped plumb lbw, but again a review was needed to overturn Dharmasena’s not out decision.
David Warner finished it in four balls with two blows, one a reverse sweep over short third, and then a six over wide long on.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.