Going by the amount of time lost in the two test matches and the manner in which the West Indies – Sri Lanka matches went, it will be safe to assume that if a result is required in Sri Lanka, one of the following two criteria need to be fulfilled: 1) the visiting team should be a very strong side like Australia or (2) it has to be a pathetically weak team.
In the first case, the visitors will win, and, in the second, the home side.
Every single day since the start of the second test between Australia and Sri Lanka, time has been lost due to the weather. On Saturday, it was much more than a session; while on Friday, only a few overs could be bowled after tea. On Thursday, play was called off ahead of close due to bad light.
But none of this will come in the way of an Australia win — unless it rains for more than a day from now on. When play was called off on Saturday, Australia was 411 for 7, in reply to Sri Lanka’s paltry 174, in the first innings. That is 237 runs ahead. Michael Clarke would ideally want some more cushion to make sure that his team does not pad up a second time in this match.
For Sri Lanka, anything that could go wrong, went wrong as Australia galloped in the morning session on day 3. At lunch, the scoreboard read 378 for the loss of 5 wickets — more than 200 runs ahead of the Sri Lankan first innings score.
The only wicket to fall in more than a day was that of Michael Hussey, who made 142. He was caught in the deep by Sangakkara, trying to push the scoring rate.
Earlier, Hussey and State team-mate Shaun Marsh completed their centuries in contrasting styles as the duo put the second test past Sri Lanka’s grasp.
Shaun Marsh debut century
Even as Shaun Marsh turned back for his second run after sweeping Suraj Randiv to mid wicket, he knew: he pumped his fist in delight and kept running towards short fine leg, grinning and looking up to the stands to spot his father, former opening batsman Geoff Marsh. At the end of a 319 minute, 234 ball vigil at the crease, Marsh had made a century on debut. He became the 19th Aussie to get a century on debut.
But the No. 19 tag — ‘Oh, yes, he’s one more to the list’ – will not do justice to the effort. The last man who made a century, was Marcus North in South Africa in 2009. He came in at No. 6 and there was not as much pressure on him as was on Marsh. Marsh came in at No. 3 — as Ponting’s replacement — when Sri Lanka was on top in the second test; and Australia was at 116 with three wickets down.
From there on, Marsh just stayed on and kept one end up. He reasoned that there was no need to push scoring; what was required was to keep the wickets. Marsh and Hussey also set a record: that of the highest fourth wicket partnership for Australia and Sri Lanka when they went past Lehman and Martyn (206).
Actually Marsh’s century came three balls after Michael Hussey's achievement — something that he could not manage in Galle. In Galle, he made 95 and picked up the man-of-the-match award for the effort, but then for a batsman, 95 is just what it is — 5 runs too short of a century. This time, Hussey’s 223 minute-193 ball vigil counted. He made 142, his 14th test century.
Marsh and Hussey also doused one more theory as they walked all over the Sri Lankan bowling — that players concentrating on T20 will not be able to perform in the longer version. This theory has been held up as the bane of Indian, and now, Sri Lankan cricket. Both Hussey and Marsh have busy T20 careers; and both also play in India — Hussey for Chennai and Marsh for Kings XI.
Sri Lanka (1st innings) 174 all out
Australia (1st innings): S.Watson b S.Lakmal 36, P.Hughes c T.Paranavitana b S.Randiv 36, S.Marsh c Sangakkara b Lakmal 141, M.Clarke c M.Jayawardene b C.Welegedara 13, M.Hussey c Sangakkara b Samaraweera 142, U.Khawaja (not out) 13, B.Haddin c Sangakkara b Randiv 1, M.Johnson b Randiv 0, R.Harris (not out) 9. Extras (lb-9, nb-10, w-1) 20. Total 411 for 7 in 132 overs
Fall of Wickets: 1- 60, 2- 95, 3-116, 4- 374, 5- 391, 6- 392, 7-392
Sri Lanka Bowling (1st innings): C.Welegedara 23-3-74-1, S.Lakmal 23-2-102-2, S.Prasanna 23-3-80-0, T.M.Dilshan 14-4-32-0, S.Randiv 43-7-103-3, Sangakkara 2-0-4-0, Samaraweera 4-0-7-1.