Labuschagne, Smith hundreds put Australia on top in 2nd test



Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith posted hun-dreds to lead Australia to 298-5 against Sri Lanka on day one of the second test on Friday.

Labuschagne — given a life on 28 when Ni-roshan Dickwella missed a stumping chance off Ramesh Mendis — made 104 for his seventh test century and the first overseas. Smith was 109 not out at stumps after collecting his 28th test century and second against Sri Lanka.

Darren Lehmann in 2004 was the last Australian to score a hundred at spin-friendly Galle Stadium. No Australian managed one in the three-day first test won on the same ground last week.

Labuschagne and Smith combined for 134 runs in 223 deliveries. The third-wicket stand was broken when Labuschagne was stumped by Dickwella to give left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya his maiden test wicket.

“It’s nice to get that (century) off the back, the first one away from home. To contribute and put the team in a position like we did today was very nice,” Labuschagne said. “It’s nice to . . . show people that you can play in not just bouncy, seaming or swinging conditions, but against spin as well.”

Labuschagne said of his and Smith’s stand: “We haven’t batted together for a century partnership in a few tests. I can’t remember the last time. But it was nice to spend some time out there and . . . talk through it.”

Labuschagne faced 125 deliveries and hit 12 fours. Two quick wickets followed thanks to Jayasuriya. His first 12 overs cost 54 runs and fetched no wickets but his next 10 overs produced 3-22.

Travis Head was bowled for 12 and Cameron Green, who escaped a stumping chance on 1, was trapped for 4.

Smith was untroubled, though. The former cap-tain was run out in his only innings in the first test and he was determined to make amends. Although the pitch offered extra bounce and turn for the spin-ners, Smith was solid in defense.

He reached his century — his first in 16 innings — with a spectacular cover drive off Kasun Rajitha and had 14 boundaries by stumps. His unbeaten 109 came from 212 balls. He’s batted for 4 1/2 hours.

Sri Lanka was forced to make four changes to the team that lost the first test by 10 wickets after four players tested positive for COVID-19. Dhananjaya de Silva, debutant Jeffrey Vandersay, Asitha Fernando and Praveen Jayawickrama had to isolated.

The hosts handed test debuts to Kamindu Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana and Jayasuriya, while Kasun Rajitha returned to the side after missing the first test. Australia was unchanged.

Jayasuriya was pleased with his effort on debut. “When you are playing a team like Australia you need to be patient,” he said. “You need to make sure that your lengths are good and you don’t give away too many loose deliveries. When you create the dot ball pressure, batsmen take chances and play into your hands.”

Theekshana, who troubled the Australians during the limited-overs series, failed to pick up a wicket but he kept one end tight, something Sri Lanka lacked in the first test. His 15 overs cost just 45 runs.—APP

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