SL v AUS, 3rd Test Day 2 Review: Shaun Marsh leads fightback
Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith led the fightback for the Aussies as they let the Sri Lankans form a launching pad from their very grasp. With the Lankans showing phenomenal survival instincts as well as grit and guts to play the vicious bowling of Mitchell Starc. Moreover, Dinesh Chandimal was the hero for the Lankans while Rangana Herath was made most uncomfortable by a rising delivery from Josh Hazelwood.
The first session of play, although yielded wickets, was a terribly frustrating one for Australia. While the Sri Lankans capitalized on some poor bowling, the Australian fielding standards took a pounding. Steve Smith was the culprit as he dropped a couple of sitters at first slip. The Lankans capitalized on the mistakes as they went about making an impressive first innings total, something that was certainly commendable given their impressive recovery from 26-5.
A hallmark of the Lankan batting was the simple fact that they were aggressive. Dilruwan Perera was impressive in the morning when he attempted to slog the ball to different parts of the SSC. However, he was caught in the deep by Nathan Lyon who pulled off a rare catch in the morning session. Dinesh Chandimal and Rangana Herath added a partnership in excess of 50 runs as Chandimal smashed his seventh Test century of his career.
Rangana Herath was smashed on his vital organs by a rising delivery from Josh Hazelwood as he retired without facing a delivery after the incident. Having scored a healthy first innings total of 355, it was clear that the Lankans were at a good place in the Test match.
Australia’s innings began with a bang when David Warner made his intentions clear by opening the innings with a four and a six. However, they were soon sent into disarray when Warner attempted one shot too many as he was caught by Dhanajya de Silva in the deep.
While many in the SSC and others watching predicted an Australian collapse, the Aussies at the moment were far from throwing in the towel. What was to come from them was a magnificent 120-run stand. This also was the first and the only 100-run stand in the context of the series.
In short, these players were on a mission. A mission to get Australian cricket back on track in the wider scenario of the World number one ranking. Marsh and Smith went on to smash twin half-centuries as Angelo Mathews looked as though he did not have a plan for the Australians apart from spin. They were playing out of their skins and showing survival instincts they had not for a long time. At the end of the day, they were on 141/1, 230 runs adrift of the Lankan total and 9 wickets in hand.
Sri Lanka, 1st innings: 355 all out (D Chandimal 132; M Starc 5/63)
Australia, 1st innings: 141/1 (S Marsh 64*; D de Silva 1/20)