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DateLine Sunday, 18 November 2007

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Survival game for Lankan batsmen

CRICKET: Hobart, Saturday - Survival will be the name of the game as the Lankan batsmen endeavour to bat out the three remaining days in the Second and Final Test against Australia and evade another humiliating innings defeat.

When play was called off early due to bad light on the second day, the Lankans replying to the massive score of 542 for 5 declared by Australia were 30 for no loss, still requiring another 312 to make the kangaroos bat again. At the wickets were Marvan Atapattu on 18 and Michael Vandort on 12.

With the Aussies carrying a terrifying and penetrative attack, the Lankan batsmen will have to put their heads down, stay put at the wicket and survive and deprive the Aussies of another win.

Even if they survive, a win is a distant dream. By then they would have signed, sealed and delivered the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy to the Australians at the first time of asking.

The highlights of the day was the belligerent batting of Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist from the time he took strike did so with a vengeance.

Apparently he was stung to the quick by the taunts that he illegally used a squash ball to take undue advantage and pulverize the Lankan bowlers in the World Cup final in the Caribbean in April. But this time round there was no squash ball as he bludgeoned 7 fours and 3 sixes and became the first ever Test cricketer to lash 100 sixes.

His 99th and 100th six was when he missiled Muralitharan over mid wicket, with the 100th six scaling over the fence and it was a lost ball. When the declaration came he was unbeaten on 67 in 77 balls.

Andrew Symonds partnered Gilchrist in a unbroken stand of 95 in 125 balls for the sixth wicket. Symonds made 50 with 4 fours and a six, when Ponting called them in at 542 for 5.

When it should be the batsmen making hundreds, for the Lankans it went the other way with bowlers Lasith Malinga going for 156, Dilhara Fernando 134 and Muttiah Muralitharan for 140. It was amazing considering that he was a wicket keeper.

Never did the sun shine all day. In overcast conditions that was ideal for the pacemen, it was a sad indictment that they could not make inroads into the Aussie batting.

In addition Muralitharan on whom a lot depended, sadly went wicketless on day two, and with it he kissed goodbye to his ambition to go past Shane Warne's highest Test wicket taking record which would have been sweet had he achieved it in Australia. His figures in the Two Tests were 96 overs 3 for 310. He could have had the wicket of Clarke, but Chamara Silva at close in spilled a difficult chance.

It was once again a complete domination by the Australians who won the toss and with Phil Jacques 150 and Michael Hussey 101 not out cracking centuries like they did in Brisbane in the First Test, the Aussies took control and the Sri Lankan bowlers were helpless as the Aussies got their batting act together.

In going to 329 for 3 at close on the first day the home team lost Matthew Hayden for 17, Ricky Ponting for 31 and Jacques for 150. Partnerships of 48 for the first wicket between Jacques and Hayden, 85 for the second wicket between Jacques and Ponting, 152 between Jacques and Hussey for the third wicket took Australia to their big score on day one.

What was mystifying on the first day was the dropping of former vice captain and Sri Lanka's leading new ball bowler Chaminda Vaas. The Lankans took the second new ball before the close, but Malinga, Maharoof and Fernando failed to break through.

When play began on the second day in overcast conditions, the bad news was that Farveez Maharoof had picked up an ankle injury and would probably not take any further part in the game.

The Lankans had to breakthrough and capture early wickets if they were to stay in the picture. But that longing did materialize as overnight not outs Hussey and Clarke took charge and began to add more muscle to their partnership with some correct and aggressive batsmanship.

They hoisted their 100 run stand and a little later it got dark and with a slight drizzle falling play was stopped. At the stoppage Australia were 392 for 3 with Hussey on 122 and Clarke on a half century.

Early lunch was taken and after lunch there were "stop, start", "stop, start" situations and when play really got started the Aussies continued to pile on the runs and the agony, although losing the wickets of Hussey for 132 with 18 fours and a six at 410 and Clarke for 71 with 8 fours at 447.

Hussey was the slower of the two, with Clarke the more aggressive driving and cutting with great timing. Both looked good for more runs when Fernando had Hussey plumb in front and Malinga getting a ball to kiss the gloves of Clarke where Prasanna Jayawardena again showed a safe pair of hands to glove the ball.

Hussey and Clarke put on 125 for the 4th wicket and Clarke and Andrew Symonds 37 for the 5th wicket.

Symonds came in immediately set about bashing the bowlers and his first three scoring shots were two fours off Malinga and a massive six off Muralitharan that nearly hit the broadcasting box at mid on.

Adam Gilchrist who did not have a bat in Brisbane and who took away the World Cup in the Caribbean with an explosive 149 with 13 fours and 8 sixes in just 104 balls with the famous squash ball in the glove, started off with a bang with two fours in his first two balls.
 

 Australia 1st innings  (329 for 3 overnight)
P. Jaques c Fernando b Jayasuriya		150
M. Hayden c P. Jayawardene b Fernando		 17
R. Ponting c M. Jayawardene b Muralitharan	 31
M. Hussey lbw b Fernando			132
M. Clarke c P. Jayawardene b Malinga	 	 71
A. Symonds not out				 50
A. Gilchrist not out				 67
Extras (b 5, lb 1, nb 17, w 1)			 24
Total (5 wkts declared, 139 overs)		542

Fall of wickets: 1-48 (Hayden), 2-133 (Ponting), 
3-285 (Jaques), 4-410 (Hussey), 5-447 (Clarke).
Bowling: Malinga 35-6-156-1 (8 nb), Maharoof 23-4-82-0 (9 nb), 
Fernando 26-4-134-2 (1 w), Muralitharan 46-4-140-1, Jayasuriya 9-1-24-1.
 Sri Lanka 1st innings 
M. Atapattu not out	 	18
M. Vandort not out	 	12
Extras	  			 0
Total (0 wkt, 12 overs)	 	30	
Bowling: Lee 6-2-14-0, Johnson 6-2-16-0
 

***

Gilchrist - 100 sixes in Tests

Speaking to the media after the day’s play, Adam Gilchrist who smacked 100 sixes in Test to become the first to do so in the history of the said that he would like to have that ball back. The six he hit off Muralitharan sailed over the mid wicket fence and was lost.

“I would like the guy who found it to hand it over to me. It is a ball I would treasure. It will be memorable memorabilia”, he said.

He also said that he was proud to achieve that feat. Obviously Gilchrist would have enjoyed the 100th six than the ones he hit in the World Cup in the Caribbean early this year with a squash ball in his glove.

Mahela Jayawardena the Sri Lankan skipper said that drawing the Test is not in his vocabulary. “If we could bat the way the openers Marvan Atapattu and Michael Vandort did in difficult conditions during the next two days, run up a good score, we could have Muralitharan firing and maybe in with a chance”, he said.

Jayawardena also revealed that medium pacer Farveez Maharoof who had suffered an ankle fracture could be out for at least four weeks, making it doubtful whether he would be fit to face the Englishmen who would be in Sri Lanka in December for three Test matches.

If required Mahroof could bat with a stripping on his ankle. “We were looking for those early wickets when play began today. They did not come as the Australian batsmen played exceedingly well”, he said. Jayawardena had praise for Adam Gilchrist and his Jessopian hitting.

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