Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith End of Century Drought Day One News, Scores, Video Highlights

Marnus Labschagne has taken advantage of a missed stumping to score his first Test century on foreign soil as Australia got off to a strong start to the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Labuschagne (104) and Steve Smith (109 not out) combined for a 134-run collaboration as the tourists finished day one in a comfortable position at 5-298 after winning the toss.

The Australian No. 3’s innings could have just ended at 28 after missing a direct delivery from off-spinner Ramesh Mendis as he came down the wicket, but Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella made an absolute meal of the chance, handing Labuschagne enough time to get back into his fold.

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Smith was 109 not out at stumps after collecting his 28th Test century and second against Sri Lanka.

Darren Lehmann was the last Australian to score a hundred at spider-friendly Galle Stadium in 2004. No Australian managed to win the three-day first test on the same terrain last week.

Labuschagne and Smith totaled 134 runs in 223 deliveries. The third wicket line was broken when Labuschagne was pushed by Dickwella to give left arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya his first test wicket.

“It’s nice to get that (century) off the back, the first away from home. To contribute and put the team in a position like we did today was a lot of fun,” said Labuschagne. “It’s nice to . . . show people that you can’t just play in bouncing, seaming or swinging conditions, but also against spiders.”

Labuschagne said of him and Smith’s booth: “We haven’t partnered in a few tests for a century. I can’t remember the last time. But it was nice to spend some time there and . † † talk about it.”

Sri Lanka had to pay dearly for the missed opportunity when Labuschagne and Smith hit their bowling attack on the turf in blistering conditions.

Ironically, Labuschagne’s innings finally ended with a punch, this time from the bowling of Test debutant Prabath Jayasuriya, who was impressive on his first day of Test action by three wickets.

Smith took over after Labuschagne’s resignation and ensured that Australia would end the day in a formidable position, even with first test heroes Travis Head and Cameron Green falling cheap.

The former captain was exhausted in his only turns in the first test and he was determined to make up for it. Although the field provided the spinners with extra bounce and spin, Smith was solid on defense.

He reached his century – his first in 16 innings – with a spectacular cover drive from Kasun Rajitha and had 14 limits through stumps. His unbeaten 109 came from 212 balls. He struck 4 1/2 hours.

Sri Lanka was forced to make four changes to the team that lost the first Test by 10 wickets after four players tested positive for COVID-19. Dhananjaya de Silva, debutant Jeffrey Vandersay, Asitha Fernando and Praveen Jayawickrama had to become isolated.

The hosts gave test debuts to Kamindu Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana and Jayasuriya, while Kasun Rajitha returned to the side after missing the first test. Australia was unchanged.

Jayasuriya was happy with his effort on the debut.

“When you play against a team like Australia, you have to be patient,” he said. “You have to make sure your lengths are right and you don’t give away too many loose deliveries. When you create the point ball pressure, batsmen take risks and play in your hands.”

Theekshana, who harassed the Australians during the limited-overs series, failed to pick up a wicket but kept one end taut, something Sri Lanka missed in the first test. His 15 overs cost just 45 runs.

with AP

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