Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne struck 86 and Kusal Mendis an unbeaten 84 to lift Sri Lanka to 184 for 2 wickets after debutant Prabath Jayasuriya took 6 wickets for 118 to reduce Australia to 364 on an eventful second day of the second Test at the Galle International Stadium on Saturday. The stage was set up by the slow left-arm orthodox Jayasuriya who capped his debut that had never been on the cards but for by his last minute call up created by pandemic drop outs of several senior players as Australia lost the last 5 wickets for 66.
The Karunaratne-Mendis bonding began after Pathum Nissanka was sent back by Mitchell Starc for 6 off 25 balls caught by Cameron Green with the score just 12. It opened the gateway to some resolute batting by the second-wicket pair as both negotiated the Aussie attack handsomely. The partnership realised 152 runs in just over 46 overs with the Lankan 150 coming up off 275 deliveries. The Lankan skipper looked well in sight of his 14th test ton when he was trapped leg before wicket by Michael Swepson.
Karunaratne struck 10 boundaries in what was a truly captain’s innings consuming 165 balls. Mendis was joined by Angelo Mathews as the duo took the side to safety in the remaining 8.2 overs. The 27-year old Mendis ended the day on a high note his 152-ball unfinished knock consuming 9 boundaries proving to be the ideal cushioning cornerstone to the Lankan innings. But Sri Lanka’s batsmen do face the challenge of wiping out a further 180 runs with 8 wickets intact well aware that they will have to be at their best against the unpredictable Aussie attack. Mathews, back from a pandemic bugged first Test, who was on 6 off 36, will need to shoulder that responsibility a good deal.
Significantly, from an Australian view point star batsman Steve Smith carrying his bat for a score of 145 in a notable comeback to his signature trade three figure atoning after 32 innings was praiseworthy in adding measure to that final Aussie total.
CHIEF SCORES: Australia 364 (117 Overs) (Steve Smith n.o. 145,.Marcus Labuschagne 104, Prabath Jayasuriya 6/118) Sri Lanka 184/2 (63 Overs) (Dimuth Karunaratne 86, Kusal Mendis n.o. 84, Angelo Mathews n.o. 6,. Mitchell Starc 1/28, Mitchell Swepson 1/31).