Warner and Hughes put Australia ahead
David Warner and Phil Hughes fell narrowly short of centuries as Australia established a useful first-innings lead over Sri Lanka on day two of the third Test in Sydney.
After dismissing the tourists for 294 yesterday, Michael Clarke’s men reached 342 for six in reply, with the captain contributing exactly 50 and Matthew Wade adding a valuable unbeaten 47 following his promotion to number six.
Australia had looked set to take complete control of proceedings following a second-wicket stand of 130 between Warner and Hughes, who contributed 85 and 87 respectively.
The former was typically aggressive, bringing up his fifty from just 37 deliveries and maintaining a strike-rate in excess of 100 thereafter, while Hughes prospered through the off side en route to his second substantial score of the series.
Sri Lanka fought back strongly after lunch, however, and will hope to make short work of the Australian tail when play resumes on the third morning.
Warner raced out of the blocks with a flurry of boundaries, but a wicket fell in the sixth over when Ed Cowan was run out at the non-striker’s end seeking a second.
Cowan’s dismissal failed to stem the flow of runs from Warner’s bat as Sri Lanka’s bowlers continued to offer up too much width.
Yet the opener’s aggression eventually proved his downfall as he holed out to long-off attempting to clear the ropes off Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Hughes also departed in soft fashion, caught behind when trying to cut a flatter delivery from Rangana Herath.
That brought Mike Hussey to the crease in his final Test and the man known as ‘Mr Cricket’ was given a guard of honour by Sri Lanka’s players.
He and Clarke took Australia to tea, but Hussey departed soon after to the second run-out of the innings; called through for a risky single to cover by his skipper, the veteran was sent packing by a direct hit from Dimuth Karunaratne.
When Clarke, who survived a strong lbw appeal first ball, gave his wicket away with a top-edged sweep to midwicket off Herath, Australia were still 23 runs in arrears.
Mitchell Johnson made just 13 before edging Nuwan Pradeep through to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal, but Wade dug in and received able support from Peter Siddle, who had 16 to his name at stumps.