Sri Lanka has ensured that there are only two results available in the second test against Australia thanks to a tremendous inning by Dinesh Chandimal. These are a Sri Lankan win or a draw, with the second appearing less likely with the Australians losing quick wickets in their second innings.
Marnus Labuschagne who scored a century in the first innings managed only 32 in the second. Likewise, Steven Smith who also scored a century in the first innings was dismissed for a four-ball duck.
At the time of writing, Australia was still 59 runs behind the Sri Lankans with only three second-inning wickets in hand. This is not going to be enough to trouble the Sri Lankans in the second innings. in fact, it is looking very likely that they will not have to bat again as the Australian tail is failing to wag.
Dinesh Chandimal is responsible for batting Australia out of the game.
The Sri Lankan middle-order batsman, Dinesh Chandimal, finished up 206 not out in his team’s total of 554. This put the home side 190 ahead in the first innings, effectively batting the Australians out of the game. The problem for the Australians is that they allowed five other batsmen to score over 50 in the innings as well.
Nathan Lyon bowled an incredible 64 overs, collecting 2 for 194 in a truly Herculean performance. In fact, Australia’s main line spinners bowled 102 overs. They also had 14 overs of part-time spin with Labuschange bowling six overs and Travis Head bowling eight. Neither player took a wicket.
The Australians will most probably be happy to see the end of this tour which started at the beginning of June. In the five-week tour, the two teams have played three T20s, five one-day matches, and two tests. It is safe to say that the Australians are looking forward to a month off from here.
They are next fixtured to play three one-day matches against Zimbabwe, starting at the end of August. This is going to be a good leadup to the T20 World Cup
After a successful first day of the second test, Australia is on the back foot against Sri Lanka after the third day. Helped by two centuries in their innings, Australia would have been confident coming into the third day. Unfortunately for the tourists, Sri Lanka built on their second-day progress.
Five of the Sri Lankan top-six batsmen passed the half-century mark. However, it was the knock of Dinesh Chandimal which has taken the match away from Australia with two days to go. The middle-order batsman has struggled to keep his place in the side. He finished unbeaten on 118 at the close of play.
Australia has missed some chances during the Sri Lankan innings. Mitchell Swepson missed a caught-and-bowled and he also had a stumping chance missed. The pitch is about to become a whole lot harder to bat on with the ball breaking through the surface on the third day.
What does Australia need to do from here?
The Australians need to take the final four Sri Lankan wickets in the first session. They have already given up a 67-run lead in the first innings and really do not want it to get to 100 or more. As mentioned earlier, it is going to become harder to bat on this wicket the longer the test goes on.
The other goal for the Australians is to find another bowling option other than Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner has already bowled 56 overs in the innings. He has also started to struggle in the heat, coming off a couple of times due to leg cramps. His bowling is going to be crucial for the tourists in the fourth innings.
If he does not break through in the first five overs that he bowls then the Australians need to shut him down. They need to bring on the part-timers such as Travis Head, Marnus Labuschange, and Steve Smith. If these players can break through then this will help Australia further into the match.
The pair of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith seemed to steer Australia into a strong position at the end of the first day of play in the second test against Sri Lanka. However, the home side was able to fight back. They took the last five Australian wickets for just 35 runs.
Bowling the Australians out for 364 in the first innings was a good result for the home side. The reason for this? It gets harder to score at Galle the longer the test goes on. Sri Lanka then lost their first wicket with only 12 runs on the board and the Australians seemed to have their tails up. However, a 152-run partnership between Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunarane and Kusal Mendis steadied the ship for the home side.
The sees Sri Lanka only 180 runs behind in the first innings with eight wickets in hand. This is a reasonably strong position to be in on the second day of a test match. This is especially so as the Australians have always struggled on the sub-continent with their spin-friendly pitches,
What does Sri Lanka have to do from here against Australia?
Well, the Sri Lankans need to build as much as they can on this first innings as they really only have quality batting down to No. 7. This means that they need to value the top-order wickets, which is something that they did not do in the first test. This was the main reason they lost that match.
Mendis and Angelo Mathews have to consolidate in the morning and see off the fresh Australian bowlers. Due to there being three days left in the test match, they can afford to grind it out for a while. They can then open up after the lunch break.
What Australia needs to do is to break this partnership early. It would be preferable to remove Mendis early and then try to run through the rest of the Sri Lankans. Hopefully, this means they can take a first-innings lead when they bat again. This is going to be crucial to take a 2-0 lead in the series