Cameron Green bats Australia to safety after storm causes first Test chaos in Sri Lanka
Cameron Green helped bat Australia to the safety of a 101-run lead in the first Test in Galle, after a morning of chaos caused by heavy rain and wild winds. Green’s 77 was the highlight of day two for Australia, before they went to stumps at 313-8 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 212 as bad light stopped play.
It came after more than two hours of play were lost to a morning storm that caused the roof of a makeshift grandstand in Galle’s International Stadium to collapse. Sightscreens were also torn down and a glass panel in a marquee smashed, as gusts of more than 60kph thrashed the coastal city.
Fortunately no one was injured and ground staff placed tyres over covers in a bid to keep them down across the outfield and pitch.
When play finally began, it was Green who did the damage to the hosts. Brought to the wicket after Travis Head went for six in the first over, the West Australian used his long legs to advantage to nullify the impact of the spinners.
Three of his six boundaries came on the sweep shot, while he also cover drove nicely in a knock that controlled the tempo of the game. It came as Australia’s attempts to go after Sri Lanka’s tweakers clearly paid dividends with only Ramesh Mendis (4-107) having any sustained success.
The visitors have scored at a run-rate of 4.53 in their first innings, with the hosts’ spinners sending down 61 overs without bowling one maiden. By comparison, Australia’s run-rate sat at 2.83 back in 2016 when Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera dictated terms and spun them into a web.
Usman Khawaja had also made a clear effort to unsettle the bowlers in his 71, as he passed 50 for the seventh time in his past 10 innings since his Test recall on Thursday.
After steadying the ship late on day one, the opener continued to employ his tactic of reverse sweeping to go after runs against the spinners. He ultimately became Jeffrey Vandersay’s first Test wicket, edging the legspinner to short leg.
Alex Carey struck a neat 45 as he played well square of the wicket, while some late power-hitting from Pat Cummins (26 not out off 16 balls) rammed home Australia’s advantage.
A first-innings lead in Sri Lanka is typically crucial, with teams from outside the sub-continent having won in the country just once after giving up a deficit.