Right arm fast bowler Ryan Harris gave the visiting Australian's a flying start with a five wicket haul to guide the side to a comfortable 125 runs victory in the first Test match concluded at the Galle International Stadium yesterday to go one up in the three Test series.
Mahela Jayawardena’s hundred was a heroic one. While most recognised batsmen perished without a fight, Jayawardena not only held the Lankan innings together, but also nursed his younger partner Angelo Mathews and infused fight into the youngster.
|Mahela celebrates his century
The pair resuming from 120 for 5 overnight batted through the first session with bravado on that unforgiving wicket making the Aussie attack look rather blunt at times.
Mahela who was on 90 at the lunch break was on the verge of reaching his 29th century, he managed to achieve that feat but his dismissal after that made things much more difficult for the home team. Mahela's knock of 105 came in 311 balls and had 15 boundaries and a six. Nevertheless it was significant for Mahela as he had the honour of making the highest individual score in this game.
It was Harris who made the much wanted breakthrough for the Australians getting the prize wicket of Mahela with the second new ball which was taken shortly after the lunch break. .
Mahela Jayawardena and Angelo Mathews added 142 runs for the sixth wicket, but, it was evident the Lankan fight came far too late.
Angelo whose highest Test score was 99 left crease soon after bowled by medium pacer Shane Watson for 95.
The Australians came into the post lunch session with a plan which worked out accordingly. It were the right armers Ryan Harris and Shane Watson who brought their success after success after the spinners in this innings failed to make much headway in the pre lunch session. But fittingly it was the first inning hero Nathan Lyon was the man who hit the final nail in the coffin when he took the last wicket.
The morning session of play threatened a stoppage with just 3.3 overs when a slight drizzle forced the umpires to bring in the covers which resulted in 65 minutes of play being lost.
The match was also of significance to Ricky Ponting though he was unable make a good contribution in the Australian victory. Ponting reached the milestone of 100 Test match wins which a record that will be hard to overcome.
Sri Lanka`s losing captain T.M. Dilshan speaking to the media at the post match briefing was a disappointed man saying “We cant win matches by making a score of 105 and of course it was a challenging pitch to play. If we had made a score of 225-250 the contest would have been much closer. Mahela and Angelo batted really well and gave them a fight back.
“The pitch was not turning like the first three days but it supported the pace bowlers which the Australian pacies took the advantage. On the other hand the score of 273 made by Australia was a bit too much that we gave and things became worse when we failed very badly when we batted”.
He was optimistic when question of his batting failures in both the innings. “I played my normal game and there and though I am the captain I am also a member of the team, I will never change my style of playing and will always play my natural game”
Speaking of the plans for the remaining two Test matches he said “We have to change our plans and we are having discussions with the respective coaches and the players. The players will have to put more commitment and play put in a better effort. I can’t say about any changes being made in the next Test match at Pallekele and that will be done after having a look at the pitch”.
“The win is something special to me” said a delighted winning captain Michael Clarke. “I am so excited and happy to win my first game as captain. The debutants did a fantastic job, the wicket died a bit as the days went on but we were spot on. The turning point was the new ball which we took after the lunch session and things worked out according to plan”
“Our aim in the first innings of Sri Lanka was to restrict them to a score of under 150 so we managed to do better than that. The innings of Michael Hussey too carried a long way and fittingly he was rewarded with the man of the match award. So it's really to start on a winning way but we cannot sit on that laurel and we must make preparations for the next game which is going to a different pitch, so it's a long way to go”. Clarke said in conclusion.