Australia fight back after Vaas strikes

Australia 207 Sri Lanka 43-3
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The Independent Online

Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath combined to undo much of the damage inflicted on Australia's batting by Chaminda Vaas as the hosts fought back late on the first day here.

After Vaas had claimed 5 for 31 to dismiss Australia for 207, McGrath took the wickets of the Sri Lanka openers Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, and Gillespie dismissed Kumar Sangakkara to leave the tourists on 43 for 3 at the close.

Vaas was in outstanding form as Australia collapsed from 189 for 4, losing their last six wickets for 18 runs. The left-arm paceman removed the tailenders Gillespie and McGrath with successive balls, having already dismissed Matthew Hayden, Matthew Elliott and Simon Katich. The scalp of Gillespie was the 30-year-old fast bowler's 250th wicket in Test cricket in his 77th match.

With the world's No 1 bowler, the spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, sitting out the tour, the advantage looked to be with Australia. The openers Justin Langer (30) and Matthew Hayden (37) put on 72 after being inserted but they lost three wickets in quick succession.

However, Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann forged a 97-run partnership to put Australia in control on 177 for 4 at tea. But Martyn was out to the last ball of the session for 47, and then Lehmann fell for 57 as he became the first of two victims in one over for the Test debutant Lasith Malinga. Adam Gilchrist went three balls later for a duck.

The Sri Lanka captain, Marvan Atapattu, was bowled by McGrath and Sangakkara was adjudged lbw as Gillespie proved a fiery proposition. Jayasuriya was then pinned in front by McGrath as the Australians made amends for their earlier lack of resolve with the bat.