Hussey comes up just short as Sri Lanka make Aussies struggle

Australia 273 v Sri Lanka
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The Independent Online

Mike Hussey fell five runs short of a century as Australia were bowled out for 273 by Sri Lanka on day one of the first Test in Galle yesterday. The hosts were then set to face one over, but took the option of bad light to bring an end to the day's play.

Hussey was the only Australia batsman to score more than 50, with his contribution vital in helping the team scratch out something approaching a respectable total.

Batting alongside his seventh partner in debutant Nathan Lyon, Hussey appeared on course for his 14th Test century. But Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan had other ideas, trapping the veteran lbw to bring the Australian innings to a close. "I am disappointed, for sure. I would have loved to get the three figures," Hussey said. "But you can look at it the other way when I thought I was caught on the boundary at around 80 as well."

The experienced left-hander had survived a let-off on 76 when Chanaka Welagedara at long off caught him off spinner Suraj Randiv but touched the boundary rope. "I was just trying to focus on the things that I knew. It does get easier the longer you stay in," Hussey added.

"We have got a good score on the board but it will depend on how well we bowl [today]. The wicket got a bit of reverse swing. It took a lot of turn on the first day. It was really slow and it was hard to find timing initially."

Ricky Ponting, the only other batsman to pass 30, and captain Michael Clarke added 55 runs for the third wicket before the latter fell lbw to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath following a decision review. "It is a wicket you can bat on if you have patience," Herath said. "If we can bat without giving away wickets, that's the best thing," he said.

Clarke – on his first appearance as Australia's full-time Test captain – won the toss and elected to bat at the Galle International Stadium, but the tourists found themselves undone by a lively pitch and an efficient Sri Lanka attack. Play was late getting under way after heavy overnight rain drenched the pitch. The plastic sheets placed on the ground were covered in water, leaving groundstaff with a task on their hands to make the surface fit for play.

Opener Shane Watson (22) was the first to fall, caught by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene while attempting to drive Herath. Orthodox spinner Herath was surprisingly preferred ahead of Ajantha Mendis, but he more than justified his selection with three wickets in total. Phillip Hughes departed for 12, forced to defend Suranga Lakmal's short delivery but succeeding only in guiding the ball to Tharanga Paranavitana in the slips. Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting reached the lunch break at 76 for 2. But both men fell early in the second session.

Ponting looked in good touch before his ill-judged attempt to slog Herath ended in a simple catch for Angelo Mathews at mid-off. Chanaka Welegedara dismissed Usman Khawaja (21) with the last ball before tea, producing late reverse swing to go between bat and pad.

Brad Haddin and Hussey resumed at 157 for 5 at the start of the final session, but regular wickets fell. Haddin (24) was caught by Tharanga Paranavitana off Suraj Randiv and Mitchell Johnson could only add 14 before edging to Jayawardene from Lakmal. Lakmal picked up his third wicket when he trapped Ryan Harris lbw for one, and the combination of Paranavitana and Randiv scored their second wicket when a bat-pad catch accounted for Copeland (12).

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