Sunday 26 May, 2019

Burns, Head dominate Sri Lanka in Canberra

Australia batsman Joe Burns.

Australia batsman Joe Burns.

Joe Burns and Travis Head helped Australia recover from a poor start to grab control of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Canberra.

Opener Burns (172 not out) and Head (161) notched Australia's first Test centuries since October to lift the hosts – who lead the two-match series 1-0 – to 384-4 at stumps on day one.

The pair combined for a 308-run partnership after Sri Lanka had reduced Australia to 28-3 in the first ever Test at Manuka Oval, where the tourists were left to rue numerous missed chances.

Vishwa Fernando (3-99) capitalised on some early movement and poor batting before Burns and Head came together, putting on Australia's highest Test partnership against Sri Lanka.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Australia gifted Sri Lanka a dream start as Marcus Harris (11) chased a wide delivery from Fernando and picked out debutant Chamika Karunaratne at point.

Fernando struck again in his next over, Usman Khawaja also going after a wide one and edging to Kusal Mendis at second slip for a duck.

On debut, Karunaratne started well and picked up his first wicket with his fourth ball, a great delivery seeing Marnus Labuschagne (6) edge behind to put Sri Lanka in complete control.

But Burns and Head managed to steady the innings, the former given a life on 34 that would prove costly for the tourists.

Burns was dropped at slip by Dhananjaya de Silva off Dilruwan Perera, a rare chance through the first half of the day as Sri Lanka gave away far too many boundaries.

In complete control, Burns brought up his fourth Test century with a quick single before tea as he continued to dominate alongside Head.

But Sri Lanka also dropped Head, a chance going down at gully off Kasun Rajitha when the left-hander was on 87.

Head then brought up his maiden Test hundred with a fine drive off Dilruwan as Australia pushed on.

Sri Lanka thought they had Head for 148 and in bizarre fashion, a cut shot off Dhananjaya ballooning up off his boot, but replays showed the ball hit the ground after his foot.

Head was aggressive and given another life on 155, Dhananjaya dropping a return chance he should have taken.

But Sri Lanka finally made another breakthrough, Fernando trapping Head lbw and Kurtis Patterson was lucky not to fall first ball off Dhananjaya as the chances continued to go begging, Lahiru Thirimanne dropping a sitter at short leg.

Burns and Patterson (25) got to stumps to complete a good day for Australia on a pitch that had improved for batting as the overs ticked by.

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