Kusal Perera goes after a century stand with Kusal Mendis. He fall just short of fifty runs as he scored 49 off 82.
It was always going to be tough for Kusal Mendis to back up from his remarkable, match-winning century in Pallekele, but he made a strong start to the task on the first morning in Galle.
Having walked to the crease with Sri Lanka in early trouble at 9 for 2, Mendis coolly picked up where he left off, playing his shots and putting Sri Lanka back on top with the assistance of Kusal Perera. Shortly before lunch, Mendis reached his half-century from his 74th delivery and at the break he was on 52 with Perera on 47, and the score had moved on to 109 for 2. On a very dry pitch that was offering significant turn already, Australia’s spinners bowled without luck and the visitors walked off the field having had no more success than the double-strike secured by Mitchell Starc in the first five overs. Angelo Mathews had chosen to bat after Steven Smith called incorrectly at the toss and things began in the worst possible fashion for Sri Lanka when Dimuth Karunaratne flicked Starc uppishly to square leg first ball. Not since Glenn McGrath dismissed Sanath Jayasuriya on the same ground in 1999 had Australia taken a wicket on the first ball of a Test, nor Sri Lanka lost one.
Sri Lanka’s top-order wobbles continued in the fifth over when Kaushal Silva, on 5, fell to the old combination of a bouncer followed by a fuller delivery. With his feet nowhere near the pitch of the ball, Silva edged Starc behind and Sri Lanka were in trouble. But that only brought Mendis to the crease, and by the lunch break his partnership with Perera was worth 100. They worked hard against Australia’s spinners – Nathan Lyon and debutant Jon Holland both found drift and turn – and attacked when the opportunity arose. Mendis was strong through the leg side when Australia bowled too straight and cleared the boundary twice, both times off Lyon, over deep midwicket and long-off. Perera scored his runs all around the ground and picked up five boundaries, and once lifted Holland high to deep midwicket where Lyon, running back towards the rope, hurled himself in the air to catch the ball one-handed and toss it back in play as he fell across the boundary. .
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