Only two days into the Galle Test, and 33 wickets have already fallen. Sri Lanka now need only seven wickets on day three to clinch the Test, and with it the series. If 12 wickets fell on the opening day, there was carnage on day two in comparison, with 21 wickets going down. It was Sri Lanka’s day all the way even though they themselves were bowled out for the second time in two days. Rangana Herath’s hat-trick was the standout performance of the day. His 4 for 35, along with Dilruwan Perera’s 4 for 29 shot Australia out for 106.
On a dramatic day, Herath’s hat-trick doomed Australia most, although there were many other heartbreak moments for them. Australia were already in deep strife at 80 for 4 when the left-arm spinner delivered the triple strike. It began with Adam Voges driving one uppishly to cover, and Peter Nevill trapped lbw by a slider. Herath then hit Mitchell Starc on the pad first ball. More drama unfolded as the umpire gave him not out and Sri Lanka reviewed more out of hope. Luckily, the replays showed that the ball did enough to hit the stumps, and Herath had a hat-trick in rather unusual fashion.
Before and after the hat-trick, wickets continued to crumble. Resuming at 54 for 2, Australia lost Usman Khawaja in the third over of the day, bowled by an arm ball by Perera. Skipper Steven Smith fell in the next over, when he tried to cut a slider from Herath, but was bowled. This was followed by Herath’s hat-trick. 80 for 7 soon became 89 for 9 as Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood soon fell to the guile of Perera. Australia managed to cross three figures thanks to a couple of sixes from Mitchell Marsh, before he was caught at long-off off Lakshan Sandakan’s bowling.
Sri Lanka’s second innings lasted only 59.3 overs, in which they managed just 237. But, the Lankans had gained such a big advantage after bowling out Australia for 106 that they ended up setting the visitors 413 to win. While the openers Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne failed once again, Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews played crucial knocks to take Sri Lanka forward. They employed the sweep to great effect against the spinners to put their team in command. Dilruwan Perera, who had earlier starred with the ball, also shone with the bat, slamming 64 in 89 balls.
Amidst all the commotion, Mitchell Starc quietly picked up six wickets to finish the match with 11 wickets. With a mountain to climb though, Australia again crumbled under pressure, finishing the day on 25 for 3, having faced only six overs. Joe Burns failed again, hitting Herath to cover in the first over. Sent in as nightwatchwan, Lyon presented a simple catch to silly point of Perera. To make matters worse, Khawaja was bowled for the second time in the day by Perera. Australia ended the day as they began it, with skipper Smith at the crease, but two innings were completed by then.
--By A Cricket Correspondent