Story remains the same for Sri Lankans

Cricket Australia 500-6 dec Sri Lanka 233 and 33-1
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Australia 500-6 dec Sri Lanka 233 and 33-1

Sri Lanka enjoyed a rare day free of controversy yesterday but their fortunes on the field sank in familiar fashion in the second Test against Australia. Beaten by an innings in the first Test two weeks ago, the tourists seem to be stumbling towards a similar fate at Melbourne .

Sri Lanka, distracted for the first two days by the saga surrounding the legality of their off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling action, said yesterday they would consider leaving him out of the third Test unless questions surrounding the legitimacy of his action were resolved.

The match has followed the pattern established in Perth, where Sri Lanka's heavy defeat was overshadowed with the accusation of ball tampering by the match referee, Graham Dowling, although they were later exonerated by the International Council.

In reply to Australia's first innings of 500 for 6 declared, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 233 and forced to follow on. At close of play, they were 33 for 1, still needing to score another 234 runs to make Australia bat again.

An intimidating spell by Glenn McGrath inflicted most of the damage in Sri Lanka's first innings. McGrath, gradually assuming the mantle of Australia's main strike bowler ahead of Craig McDermott, claimed 5 for 40.

McGrath troubled the Sri Lankan batsman by generating extreme pace and bounce. Only the wicketkeeper, Romesh Kaluwitharana, and the captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, delayed Australia's onslaught with half centuries of differing character.

While Ranatunga showed caution in compiling 51 runs from 155 balls, Kaluwitharana went on the offensive, scoring one less run off a third as many deliveries.

Paul Reiffel, who took two wickets in the first innings, condemned Sri Lanka's opener, Roshan Mahanama, to another failure in the second innings.

Mahanama edged a simple catch to Shane Warne at third slip to be dismissed for three in both knocks.

McGrath, who has claimed 29 wickets in five Tests against Pakistan and Sri Lanka this season, admitted: "That was the fastest I have bowled all season. The wicket had everything you would look for and my confidence was high."

(Third day; Australia won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First innings 500 for 6 dec (S R Waugh 131no, D C Boon 110, R T Ponting 71).

SRI LANKA - First innings

(Overnight 29 for 1)

U C Hathurusingha lbw b McGrath 23

A P Gurusinha c Healy b Ponting 27

P A de Silva c Reiffel b McGrath 18

*A Ranatunga c Warne b McDermott 51

H P Tillakaratne c Taylor b Warne 14

R S Kaluwitharana c Boon b McDermott 50

W P U J C Vaas c Healy b Reiffel 0

G P Wickramasinghe c Healy b McGrath 10

M Muralitharan c Slater b McGrath 11

K J Silva not out 6

Extras (lb7, nb7, b6) 20

Total (88.4 overs) 233

Fall (cont): 2-64, 3-68, 4-128, 5-140, 6-182, 7-183, 8-213, 9-221.

Bowling: McDermott 23-8-63-2 (nb5); McGrath 23.4-9-40-5; Reiffel 20-5- 60-1 (nb2); Ponting 4-2-8-1; Warne 18-5-49-1.

SRI LANKA - Second innings

R S Mahanama c Warne b Reiffel 3

U C Hathurusingha not out 20

A P Gurusinha not out 8

Extras (b1, lb1) 2

Total (for 1, 13 overs) 33

Fall: 1-11.

Bowling: McDermott 4-0-1-30; McGrath 4-0-5-0; Reiffel 4-1-13-1; Warne 1-1-0-0.

Umpires: D Hair and S Dunne (NZ).