/ 26 December 2012

Sri Lanka’s dismal innings overshadows Sangakkara’s milestone

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara
Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara

Mitchell Johnson has unleashed a fiery spell of pace bowling as Sri Lanka were skittled for 156 to bring tea early on the opening day of the second Test in Melbourne.

Johnson captured two wickets in two balls straight after the drinks break in the session after lunch and dismissed the dangerous Sangakkara for 58 to finish with 4-63 in glorious sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia's pace attack had scythed through the tourists' top order to leave them reeling at 79-3 at lunch and mowed through the remaining wickets after the break for the cost of 77 runs.

The dismal innings shaded a brilliant achievement by master batsmen Sangakkara who had earlier celebrated his 10 000th Test run just before lunch.

Sangakkara became the 11th batsman to reach the milestone and did it in style by punching a glorious cover drive for four off Johnson in the over before lunch.

The 35-year-old former captain drew a standing ovation and shook hands with the Australian team but Johnson later exacted revenge by having him caught brilliantly by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

Wade charged 50m back from the wicket to chase down the miscued pull shot and snaffled the ball with a lunge forward in front of delighted fans in the southern stand.

Sangakkara's wicket left Sri Lanka 147-8 and extinguished their hopes of building a competitive total in front of a crowd of more than 60 000 at the MCG after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera had resumed after the lunch break but debutant Jackson Bird captured his second wicket to dismiss the latter for 10 straight after lunch.

Samaraweera appeared to suffer a brain-fade as he attempted a pull shot that succeeded only in popping up a simple catch to David Warner at short mid-wicket.

All-rounder Angelo Mathews composed a brisk 15 before joining Samaraweera in throwing away his wicket, slashing at a wide delivery off Peter Siddle to edge a catch to Mike Hussey, who took it brilliantly in his left hand.

Johnson struck to remove Prasanna Jayawardene for 24 with a stinging short delivery with the first ball after the drinks break, with Dhammika Prasad gone with the next ball for a duck after lobbing a simple catch to Wade.

Spinner Nathan Lyon cleaned up the tail by having Rangana Herath caught for 14 and Chanaka Welegedera caught for a duck.

Sri Lanka's woes were further compounded with Prasanna Jayawardene being taken to hospital to have scans on an injured thumb, leaving Sangakkara to take the gloves.

The 26-year-old Bird earlier opened the bowling with Johnson and celebrated his first Test wicket in just his second over, having opener Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind for five when the rookie left-hander pushed at a ball moving away and feathered the edge to Wade.

Johnson struck only three overs later, bowling Tillakaratne Dilshan for 11, the feisty opener throwing away his wicket with a horrible attempted slog that served only to nick the ball onto the stumps.

Mahela Jayawardene joined Sangakkara in the middle with the score 19-2, but the partnership lasted only 18 runs before Siddle removed the Sri Lanka captain for three with his third delivery after the drinks break.

The fiery Siddle coaxed Jayawardene forward with a ball that moved away and he feathered a catch to Wade to end a scratchy 26-ball innings that continues his struggles with the bat. The 35-year-old has failed to pass 19 runs in his last five innings.

Australia captain Michael Clarke was cleared to play after sustaining a hamstring injury in the hosts' first Test victory in Hobart.

Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Kulasekara was ruled out with injury and replaced by Dhammika Prasad. – Reuters