Aussies struggle as Herath strikes

Galle (Sri Lanka): Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath grabbed three wickets to leave Australia struggling on 157-5 at tea on the opening day of the first Test on Wednesday.

The left-arm spinner troubled the tourists by making the ball turn and bounce on the bone-dry wicket at the Galle International Stadium.

Former captain Ricky Ponting was the lone Australian batsman to put up a stand, making a fluent 44 before falling in the afternoon session.

Herath, a 33-year-old playing only his 28th Test despite making his debut at the same ground 12 years ago, went to tea with figures of three for 40 from 16 accurate overs.

Michael Hussey was unbeaten on 34 at the break but Usman Khawaja was bowled by seamer Chanaka Welegedara in the session's final over for 21.

There was no sign of the panic to follow when Australian captain Michael Clarke won the toss and decided to bat after the start was delayed by an hour due to overnight rains.

Australia raced to 28-0 in six overs, 22 of them coming from the blade of Shane Watson, who smashed Welegedara for four boundaries in one over.

But Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan introduced Herath in the seventh over and the bowler met with immediate success when Watson was caught behind off his first delivery.

Seamer Suranga Lakmal was rewarded for a probing first spell when he had opener Phillip Hughes fending a rising ball to Tharanga Paranavitana in the slips, the batsman going for just 12 runs.

Clarke helped Ponting retrieve the situation by adding 55 for the third wicket on either side of the lunch interval.

But Clarke fell for 23 soon following the resumption when Sri Lanka asked for a television review after umpire Richard Kettleborough turned down a confident appeal for leg-before from Herath.

Replays confirmed the ball would have hit middle stump and TV umpire Tony Hill declared Clarke out.

Herath removed Ponting when the well-set batsman attempted a mighty heave off a ball that spun sharply, spooning an easy catch to Angelo Mathews at deep mid-off.

Ponting, the only member of the touring side to have played a Test in Sri Lanka before this trip, batted
confidently to hit six boundaries.

Australia awarded Test caps to seamer Trent Copeland and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, while Khawaja was preferred to Shaun Marsh for the number six position.

Lyon, 23, who had played just four first-class matches when he was picked for the tour, was given the nod for the opening Test over left-arm spinner Michael Beer.

Copeland, 25, a lanky seamer from New South Wales, picked up six wickets during the three-day warm-up match in Colombo last week in which left-hander Khawaja scored a century.

Sri Lanka left out unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis and decided to go with two seamers in Welegedera and Lakmal, and two slow bowlers in Herath and Suraj Randiv.

Bureau Report

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link