HOBART – Australia were forced to dig deep before finally securing a 137-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Hobart today.
The tourists had stubbornly resisted everything Australia had thrown at them – including overs from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, opener David Warner and batsman Mike Hussey – until the final session of the match.
Having lost two wickets on day four, Sri Lanka were never likely to chase the 393 they needed for victory. And after only the loss of two wickets in the first two sessions – and with the weather slowing Australia’s progress – Sri Lanka must have fancied their chances of claiming a draw. However Australia kept chipping away in the evening session and finally got their reward in the final hour.
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara had done their best to frustrate Michael Clarke’s side as they put on 65 for the third wicket. But Clarke, who had limped off with a hamstring injury yesterday, held on to the crucial catch at first slip to remove Jayawardene (19) off Peter Siddle.
Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera were both handed reprieves via reviews before Australia’s long wait for the fourth wicket came in the afternoon session. Siddle was again the man to claim the breakthrough, with Sangakkara (63) struck in line by a ball going on to hit middle stump.
Two rain breaks wiped almost an hour off of the day’s play, however Australia’s perseverance finally paid off as six wickets fell late in the day.
Angelo Mathews edged Siddle behind for 19, with the Aussie paceman then claiming the vital wicket of Samaraweera for 49.
While man-of-the-match Siddle (4-50) had broken the back of the Sri Lankan innings, it was Mitchell Starc who came to fore to mop up the tail as Prasanna Jayawardene (21) and Nuwan Kulasekara (9) both departed. A snorting delivery then saw Rangana Herath (8) lose his stumps, while Starc (5-63) claimed his fifth wicket as Shaminda Eranga was caught behind. (Sky)