GALLE: Australia’s Cameron Green struck a masterly 77 on a treacherous track and forged half-century partnerships with Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey to put the tourists in charge of the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday.
Green added 57 runs with Usman Khawaja and 84 with Alex Carey to help Australia eclipse Sri Lanka’s below-par total of 212 and reach 313-8, a handy lead of 101, at the Galle International Stadium.
Captain Pat Cummins was batting on after an entertaining 26 off 16 balls with Nathan Lyon on eight at the other end when bad light stopped the second day’s play.
Khawaja praised Green for handling the Sri Lankan spinners with aplomb on a weather-hit day. It was a bonus to get any play at all after storms and ferocious winds had caused a stand to collapse, with no injuries, and delayed the start until the afternoon.
The left-handed Khawaja made 71 before 23-year-old Green combined with Carey.
“He (Green) batted beautifully,” said Khawaja.
“(It) took a lot of courage the way he batted. He came out and played a sweep shot straight away. That’s not easy.
“That wicket is extremely tough, it’s one of the toughest I have played on.”
Khawaja, 35 and a veteran of 49 Tests, said Green’s game is “well beyond where a lot of us were on the sub-continent at 20”.
“It’s great, a lot of the things we have learned as senior batters around the group. It’s great to see that knowledge being passed on.”
Ramesh Mendis removed Carey for 45 to break the stand and claimed his fourth wicket of the innings when he trapped Green lbw, finishing the day with four for 107.
Mitchell Starc fell next to debutant leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who took two wickets, but Cummins smashed the bowlers around in his 16-ball blitz that included one four and three sixes with the last one going out of the ground.
The tourists, who resumed on 98-3 in response to Sri Lanka’s 212, lost Travis Head on his overnight six with off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva getting the left-hander caught and bowled.
Khawaja, a left-handed opener who survived a missed stumping on 36 during the previous day, added 57 in partnership with Green.
Vandersay finally dispatched Khawaja, who has scored four centuries this year after being restored to the team during the Ashes in January, for his maiden Test wicket.
The left-handed Carey joined Green, who is playing his 13th Test, and took the attack to the opposition as he used the sweep to good effect and hit six boundaries.
“They had a plan and as soon as they saw the wicket was spinning they started to sweep and reverse sweep,” Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunga told reporters.
“They succeeding in doing so. The credit should go to the Aussie batsmen as they handled spin better than our batters.”
Ferocious Indian Ocean winds battered Galle on Thursday, upending broadcast equipment and one of the sightscreens at the ground in the port city.
The makeshift roof of one of the ground’s smaller stands was also brought down by the storm. Once the rain stopped, ground staff worked quickly to set things in order and get the game underway.
AUSTRALIA (1st innings, overnight) 98-3 U. Khawaja c Nissanka b Vandersay 71 D. Warner lbw b R. Mendis 25 M. Labuschagne c Fernando b R. Mendis 13 S. Smith run out (Dickwella/K. Mendis) 6 T. Head c and b De Silva 6 C. Green lbw b R. Mendis 77 A. Carey c Chandimal b R. Mendis 45 M. Starc c and b Vandersay 10 P. Cummins not out 26 N. Lyon not out 8 EXTRAS (B-20, LB-3, NB-1, W-2) 26 TOTAL (for eight wickets, 69 overs) 313 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-47 (Warner), 2-75 (Labuschagne), 3-83 (Smith), 4-100 (Head), 5-157 (Khawaja), 6-241 (Carey), 7-278 (Green), 8-278 (Starc) YET TO BAT: M. Swepson BOWLING: Fernando 8-1-34-0 (2w), De Silva 5-0-8-1, Embuldeniya 15-0-73-0 (1nb), R. Mendis 31-0-107-4, Vandersay 10-0-68-2
Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2022