Led by a half-century stand for the second wicket between Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne, Australia posted 99 for 2 at Lunch on the opening day’s play of the second Test at the Galle International Stadium, on Friday (July 8).
Electing to bat, Australia went on the attack early – an approach that paid rich dividends in the previous encounter between the two teams. Sri Lanka, who came in with three debutants – opened the attack Kasun Rajitha and offspinner Ramesh Mendis. The latter got the ball to kick and turn from the first over itself on a pitch where spinners will have a big role to play.
David Warner fell early, squared up by Rajitha, who got the ball to angle away from the left-hander from round the wicket and caught the outside edge to the ‘keeper. However, Australia didn’t fall back on the defensive as Khawaja and Labuschagne kept rotating the strike over even when scoring opportunities weren’t available, and were quick to latch on to the chances that came their way.
The duo combined to stitch a steady 55-run partnership before Khawaja was beaten by Mendis’s offbreak that went past his outside edge and hit the top of the offstump. However, despite assistance from the pitch, Sri Lanka failed to put the visitors on the backfoot. They had an opportunity soon after when Mendis had Labuschgne tricked and out of his crease, but Niroshan Dickwella – the ‘keeper – missed an opportunity to have him stumped.
The batter made good use of the opportunity and cracked Rajitha, who offered him two deliveries wide and short, for two boundaries through the square region. Labuschagne and Smith went to the break unbeaten in a session where they lost their openers, but would still be satisfied with the runs on the board.
Brief Scores: Australia 99/2 (Marnus Labuschagne 42*, Usman Khawaja 37; Kasun Rajitha 1-23) vs Sri Lanka.