Australia grab last-gasp win
Australia claimed six final-session wickets to end Sri Lanka’s stubborn resistance and seal victory in the first Test at Hobart.
Mitchell Starc polished off the tail to finish the innings with five scalps, building on Peter Siddle’s earlier work, as the hosts clinched a 137-run win by bowling out their opponents for 225 with little more than 10 overs remaining.
Sri Lanka had looked like rescuing an unlikely draw when they reached tea on 186 for four, but the Australia attack completed the job just in time. Starc returned figures of 5-63 inside 29 overs and Siddle 4-50 from 26 to be named man of the match for his nine wickets.
Siddle, accused of ball tampering during Sri Lanka's first innings but today cleared by match referee Chris Broad, struck once in each of the first two sessions to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The second came immediately before the first of two rain breaks which substantially aided the cause of the tourists, who had long since given up hope of reaching a target of 393.
As well as the weather, which accounted for the best part of an hour of the afternoon session, Sri Lanka had the Decision Review System on their side as technology came to the aid of Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera after they were on the wrong end of lbw decisions from umpire Nigel Llong.
However, Siddle removed Angelo Mathews and Samaraweera to renew the hosts’ hopes before Starc took centre stage.
Having injured his hamstring batting on day four, Australia captain Michael Clarke from the outset was rooted to his place at first slip as Sri Lanka resumed on 65 for two.
There was little early encouragement for Clarke and it came as a surprise when Siddle tempted Jayawardene into an open-bladed prod outside off stump that travelled low to Clarke's right at first slip and was duly pouched by the hamstrung captain.
Sangakkara survived a real scare 10 minutes before the break, successfully reviewing an lbw decision that had seen him given out to a shooting Shane Watson delivery angled in from round the wicket. Replays showed the ball hit him outside the line of off stump.
And it was a similar story soon after lunch when Samaraweera earned a reprieve to another lbw verdict, this time off Siddle, which struck the batsman outside off.
Two overs later, DRS was called into action again but this time there was no reprieve for Sangakkara, who was struck in line by a ball going on to hit middle stump and departed for 63. Mathews and Samaraweera then survived two tricky mini-sessions, punctuated by a second rain interruption.
Clarke turned to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade to bowl the last over before tea, with Phil Hughes putting on the pads and gloves behind the stumps. The move may have smacked of desperation, but it was far from the least threatening over of the day.
The final session proved key, though, as Siddle and Starc turned the match decisively in Australia’s favour. Siddle had Mathews caught behind by Wade before trapping Samaraweera lbw for 49 playing forward.
Starc gave his fellow paceman a helping hand by having Prasanna Jayawardeneheld at slip for 21 by Mike Hussey. He then snared Nuwan Kulasekara, taken by Wade, and bowled Rangana Herath off an inside edge.
That left the hosts needing one more wicket for victory and it duly arrived two overs later, Wade taking his fourth catch of the innings to dismiss Shaminda Eranga and hand Starc a fifth victim.