Australia off to a flier

Third Test.
Third Test.

AUSTRALIA 3/211 (Warner 85, Hughes 87, Clarke 24*, Hussey 6*) trailing SRI LANKA 294 by 83 runs in the third Test at the SCG. Day two, second session.

UPDATE Mike Hussey has arrived at the batting crease at the SCG and been given a guard of honour by his Sri Lankan opponents for what is his last Test match. When Phil Hughes departed for 87, the crowd of more than 21,000 stood and applauded Mr Cricket’s walk to the middle. Hussey walked through the tunnel and shook the hand of Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene before facing his first delivery. It was similar to the reception given for Ricky Ponting by the South African team when he played his final Test earlier this summer in Perth. Hussey is looking to go out on a high by adding to his 19 Test centuries. Batting alongside captain Michael Clarke, the pair will aim to add to their heroics at the SCG last summer against India - when Clarke made 329no and Hussey 150no.


DAVID WARNER's rich form against Sri Lanka has continued as Australia rapidly pursued the visitors' first-innings score of 294 at the SCG.

In a dominant morning session, Australia's deficit fell to 167 after as Warner (68 not out) and Phillip Hughes (50 not out) went to lunch with an unbroken partnership of 91 and their team coasting at 1-127.

The only blot on Australia's first-session effort was the dismissal of opener Ed Cowan, whose lack or urgency when running between the wickets resulted in him being run out for four.

Warner began the day with a chance to become the first Australian opener to reach 50 in four consecutive innings since Simon Katich in 2010. By the end of the fifth over he was more than half-way there, on 31, thanks to some crunching driven boundaries. Two of the left-hander's early boundaries were from streaky edges through slips, but they were clearly the exception in an innings which has so far been among his most authoritative.

Australia's surging early momentum was halted in the sixth over. Warner pushed Dhammika Prasad into the gap between mid-wicket and mid-on, but both he and partner Cowan hesitated at the start of their second run attempt before continuing. Nuwan Pradeep's desperate chase from mid-on was rewarded when his accurate throw to the non-striker's end was guided on to the stumps by Prasad.

While Cowan, who was running to the danger end, would have safely made his ground had he not paused two steps into his second run, he was also harmed by having shown no urgency in the first run.

Cowan's dismissal, for four, was the third successive Test that Australia has lost a top-three batsman to a run-out, after Warner in Hobart and Hughes in Melbourne. The last time that occurred was in 1978-79, across five Tests at home to England.

Australia, having conceded that self-inflicted wicket, then batted purposefully to ensure it was not followed by any other blunders.

Warner reached his half-century from the first delivery after drinks with his eighth boundary, from just his 37th delivery. Hughes reached the same milestone in the last over before lunch, with his sixth boundary from his 85th delivery. For both batsman it was a maiden Test half-century in the state they were raised in.

Sri Lanka's three seamers - Suranga Lakmal, Pradeep and Prasad - consistently conceded above five runs an over in their spells, prompting the visitors to have a deploy some ultra-defensive field positions including a busy deep point. The only bowler who has yet been able to shackle the Australian batsmen has been part-time off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene again displayed a reluctance to utilise his team's best bowler, Rangana Herath. In Hobart the left-arm spinner was not called upon before the 32nd over in either Australian innings, while in Melbourne he got his first opportunity in the 23rd over. He was ignored for all 27 of the overs bowled in the first session in Sydney.

This story Australia off to a flier first appeared on The Age.