Steve Smith and Marcus Labuschagne struck masterly centuries as Australia put a depleted Sri Lankan bowling attack to the sword to running up 298 for 5 wickets on the opening day of the second Test match at the Galle International Stadium on Friday. The Australians made the most of opting to bat first in grinding out a depleted pandemic hit Lankan outfit that put some key players including pace bowler Asitha Fernando and all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva out of action.
Sri Lanka, which blooded Prabath Jayasuriya, Kamindu Mendis and Maheesh Theekshana, reduced Australia to 15 for 1 by the fifth fifth ball of the fifth over when Kasun Rajitha bowled David Warner for 5 off 13 balls, and young spin prodigy Kamindu Mendis struck clean bowling an ominous looking Usman Khawaja for his maiden test wicket as Australia dipped to 70 for 2 after 21.5 overs.
Khawaja made 37 off 77 inclusive of 4 boundaries. But that was as far as the Lankans would make inroads as the third-wicket pair of Marcus Labuschagne and Steve Smith took control of the situation fronting a 134-run partnership for the Aussies to wrest control crossing the 200-mark. At 204 debutant Prabath Jayasuriya struck removing Labuschagne whom he had stumped by Niroshan Dickwella for 104 to pick his maiden test wicket.
Of course, the day did hold out special for the South African born 28-year old right-hander Marcus Labuschagne who notched up his first overseas ton.
Meanwhile, the left-arm orthodox Prabath Jayasuriya did open up a pathway when he accounted for a fourth wicket when he clean bowled Travis Head for 12 off 36 to make it 238 for 4 after 72.2 overs, and went on to claim the fifth Aussie wicket to fall 14 runs later when he trapped Cameron Green leg before wicket for 4 off 14 as Australia reached 252 for 5 after 77 overs.
However, the 33-year old Steve Smith held strong in coming back to his own in breaking a century drought in 32 innings to remain unbeaten on 109 off 212 balls hitting 14 boundaries. With him was Alex Carey on 16 off 35. CHIEF SCORES: Australia 298/5 (90 Overs) Marcus Labuschagne 104, Steve Smith n.o. 109, Usman Khawaja 37, Travis Head 12, Alex Carey n.o. 16, Prabath Jayasuriya 3/90, Kasun Rajitha 1/56, Ramesh Mendis 1/100).