Sri Lanka stumble after Clarke declares intent
Michael Clarke’s bold declaration at Hobart looked a smart one by the close on day two of the Test series between Australia and Sri Lanka with the tourists in a precarious position.
Clarke has earned praise for the positive manner in which he has captained the Baggy Green since replacing Ricky Ponting last year, and declaring at 450 for five with Mike Hussey unbeaten on 115 and Matthew Wade 68 was a move of some intent.
He was left to reflect on a good decision, with Sri Lanka ending on 87 for four - 363 behind - after Nathan Lyon dismissed Thilan Samaraweera with what became the last ball of a rain-affected day at the Bellerive Oval.
Were it not for 50 not out from Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene’s men would have been in deeper trouble.
Australia shared the wickets round with Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson striking, after Hussey had completed his third century in four Tests this season.
Having recently helped himself against South Africa, Hussey’s form was not in question. But he did have some fortune today, with his 19th Test hundred coming when Angelo Matthews shelled him on the boundary and the ball rolling away for four. Hussey saw the funny side and cracked Shaminda Eranga for six to midwicket.
Before that the only wicket to fall today was that of Clarke, with the skipper caught in the slips by Kumar Sangakkara off Eranga for four more than his overnight 70 to halt a stand of 106.
With Wade then joining Hussey - who had resumed on 37 - for a 146-run alliance, they quickly put to bed any thoughts of not setting a competitive score. But batting proved less straightforward for Sri Lanka.
Dimuth Karunaratne was the first to depart, getting cramped by a Hilfenhaus away-swinger and edging behind to Wade with 25 on the board. Elder statesman Sangakkara was the next to go, chasing a wide one from Siddle and finding the hands of Hussey who took a smart catch at gully.
Sri Lanka really needed Jayawardene to hang around and he suggested he might as he tucked away two successive fours off Mitchell Starc, but as the score ticked on to 70 he lost his wicket.
Watson rapped him on the knee-roll of his pad and to the naked eye it looked out and was duly given as so. Perhaps out of desperation he reviewed it, but was soon walking off.
Dilshan at least went along nicely, although his miscued pull off Watson fell safe. He was left without a partner at the end, Samaraweera misreading a slider from Lyon and feathering to Wade.