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Australia take control on day one

Melbourne, Dec 26, 2012, Reuters: 22:54 IST

Johnson rattles out-of-sorts Sri Lanka with a four-wicket haul

Australia reached 150/3 at the close of the opening day of the second Test, punishing Sri Lanka after the visitors had failed to build on Kumar Sangakkara's landmark half-century and were dismissed for just 156 on Wednesday.

Openers Ed Cowan and David Warner charged to 95 without loss but Sri Lanka checked the hosts with three quick wickets following the drinks break in the final session at a sunbathed Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The mini-revival stalled, however, with two demoralising dropped catches late in the day that allowed Australia captain Michael Clarke (20 batting) and Shane Watson (13 batting) to survive a watchful final hour to stumps.

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first in glorious sunshine, but barring Sangakkara's elegant 58, which saw him notch his 10,000th Test run, the tourists suffered a calamitous bout of stage-fright in front of a huge Boxing Day crowd of 67,000.

Only quick wickets in the morning session of day two may save Sri Lanka, with the MCG's drop-in pitch expected to flatten out in the sun and offer less for bowlers.

After dismissing Sri Lanka just before tea, swashbuckling opener David Warner got Australia off to a flying start, blasting eight fours and a massive six over long on off the bowling of seamer Chanaka Welegedera. Warner despatched Sri Lanka's pace trio to all corners of the ground before all-rounder Angelo Mathews ended his innings at 62 when he belted a pull shot straight to Dhammika Prasad in front of the rope at deep mid-wicket.

That precipitated a minor collapse, with number three batsman Phillip Hughes run out for 10 and Cowan caught behind for 36 six balls later.

Hughes fell in farcical circumstances, failing to leave his crease as Cowan charged through for a single after poking the ball to midwicket.

The misjudgement allowed the fielding Tillakaratne Dilshan enough time to fumble the ball before whipping it back to the stumps where replacement wicket-keeper Sangakkara whipped off the bails.

Cowan soon brought about his own downfall with an indiscriminate swipe at a Prasad delivery that flew into the welcoming hands of Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene at second slip.

Sri Lanka failed to maintain the momentum, however, with Dilshan dropping a sharp chance off Clarke in close, with the in-form Australia captain on six. Watson, on five, edged a catch behind the wicket off the bowling of Welegedara, but Sangakkara spilled the diving chance.

SRI LANKA (I Innings):
Karunaratne c Wade b Bird 5
Dilshan b Johnson 11
Sangakkara c Wade b Johnson 58
M J’dene c Wade b Siddle 3
Samaraweera c Warner b Bird 10
Mathews c Hussey b Siddle 15
P J’dene c Hughes b Johnson 24
Prasad c Wade b Johnson 0
Herath c Hussey b Lyon 14
Eranga (not out) 4
Welegedera c Hussey b Lyon 0
Extras (LB-5, NB-7) 12
Total (all out, 43.4 overs) 156
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-19, 3-37, 4-79, 5-99, 6-134, 7-134, 8-147, 9-156.
Bowling: Johnson 14-2-63-4, Bird 13-5-32-2, Siddle 8-1-30-2, Watson 3-2-3-0, Lyon 5.4-0-23-2.
AUSTRALIA (I Innings):
Warner c Prasad b Mathews 62
Cowan c M J’dene b Prasad 36
Hughes (run out) 10
Watson (batting) 13
Clarke (batting) 20
Extras (B-2, W-5, NB-2) 9
Total (for 3 wkts, 39 overs) 150
Fall of wickets: 1-95, 2-117, 3-117.
Bowling: Welegedara 11-4-36-0, Eranga 10-2-53-0, Prasad 8-1-39-1, Mathews 4-2-9-1, Herath 6-1-11-0.

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