Australia recover after wobbly start in Canberra
CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia lost three early wickets to Sri Lanka’s makeshift pace attack in a wobbly start to the second and final Test on Friday before recovering to reach 103 for three at lunch.
Opening batsman Joe Burns was on 46 and Travis Head 39 for the hosts as they led the recovery through an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 75.
On a chilly and overcast morning at the Manuka Oval, which is making its debut as a Test venue, Australia captain Tim Paine finally had some luck with the coin toss, winning for only the second time in nine Tests he had led the team in.
But his joy was short-lived as Sri Lanka made early inroads despite being forced to go with a completely new pace attack, Suranga Lakmal joining Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara in being ruled out after playing the opening Test at the Gabba.
Left-armer Vishwa Fernando, who was not in the original squad and joined only as a replacement for Nuwan Pradeep, struck twice in two overs to dismiss left-handers Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja with his outswinging deliveries.
Opening batsman Harris started strongly to race to 11 before finding Chamika Karunaratne at point with a square drive, while number three Khawaja guided one to the slip fielder before opening his account.
Debutant Chamika, who arrived in Australia only couple of days back as a replacement, then picked up a wicket with only his fourth delivery in Test cricket, getting Marnus Labuschagne (six) to edge behind.
The hosts, who lead the series 1-0 after their win in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs, were reduced to 28-3 at that stage before Burns and Head steadied the innings.
As the new ball lost its shine and the Sri Lankan pacemen their swing, the batting pair grew in confidence and upped their scoring rate.
Burns, who is returning to the side after being dropped against Pakistan and India, played some flowing off-drives and survived a dropped chance at slip by Dhananjaya de Silva against off-spinner Dilruwan Perera when batting on 34.
Head looked assured during his stay and had struck five boundaries in his knock so far.