Charge down the wicket with cricket tips for the second and final Test between beleaguered hosts Sri Lanka and heavyweights Australia.
14:30 (AEST), Fri 8th Jul @ Galle International Stadium
History: Played 32: Australia 20 V Sri Lanka 4 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: June 29-July 1, 2022: Australia d Sri Lanka by 10 wickets at Galle International Stadium
Final Thoughts: Australia are gunning for a sweep of their two-match Test series in Sri Lanka after carving out an emphatic win the opener.
The tourists triumphed by 10 wickets after building a 109-run first-innings lead and skittling the Lions cheaply in their second dig.
Sri Lanka made just 212 in the first innings – and that was only after wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella made 58 off 59 balls coming in at No.7. Veteran Angelo Mathews (39) was the next top scorer. The hosts had few answers for the spin assault of Nathan Lyon (5/90) and Mitchell Swepson (3/55).
Australia’s top order also struggled – a luck-riding Usman Khawaja (71) aside – but big contributions from all-rounder Cameron Green (77) and Alex Carey (45), who shared in a match-high 84-run partnership, saw them through a total of 321. Ramesh Mendis was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, taking 4/112 in 32 overs.
Sri Lanka capitulated to 113 all out in 23 overs in their second innings – leaving Australia with only five runs to get – with opener and captain Dimuth Karunaratne (23) the only batter to make more than 14. Lyon (4/31) and Swepson (2/34) again dominated, while part-time tweaker Travis Head took 4/10 in just 2.5 overs.
The home batters’ over-reliance on the sweep shot against spin proved bizarre and fatal. Sri Lanka’s only hope of a series-levelling victory – or even being competitive – is some hefty scores from openers Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka, and the mercurial Kusal Mendis.
COVID tears through Sri Lankan ranks
But compounding their issues, Dhananjaya de Silva, Asitha Fernando and Jeffrey Vandersay have joined Mathews (who was unable to bat in the second innings of the first Test) on the list of COVID casualties. Praveen Jayawickrama, who did not play in the opener, is also on the unavailable list for the same reason.
Australia are set to name an unchanged team. Khawaja’s magnificent form on the subcontinent this year is a handy backstop for the tourists, but Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, in particular, and David Warner and Travis Head will be eager for some runs against a weakened opponent.
Given Sri Lanka’s setbacks and first-Test showing, the $1.80 about another Aussie victories looks money for old rope. At an unusually low favourite’s price of $2.80, Lyon remains good value to be Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the match.