Marsh, Hussey defy SL

Marsh, Hussey defy SL

Australia reach 235 for five on rain-hit first day

castled! Australian top-scorer Shaun Marsh is dismissed for 81 by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath on the opening day of the final Test at the SSC grounds in Colombo. afp

A sedate knock of 81 off 207 balls by Shaun Marsh held the Australian innings together as they struggled for runs throughout the rain-interrupted day. Michael Hussey was unbeaten on 63 with Brad Haddin 21 not out at the close.

Marsh's lengthy innings was ended in the final session by left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who bowled him with a straight delivery. Marsh figured in two useful partnerships of 79 with Ricky Ponting and 70 with Hussey.

The afternoon session was delayed by 40 minutes due to rain but it made no difference to the home bowlers, who managed to snare the key wickets of former captain Ponting for a well compiled 48 and current skipper Michael Clarke for six.

Both batsmen fell to poor shots chasing balls wide outside the off stump and edging catches behind the wicket to Prasanna Jayawardene. Suranga Lakmal picked up Ponting's wicket at 101-3 while debutant Shaminda Eranga took his second wicket of the innings when he dismissed Clarke.

Marsh, who made a century on debut in the drawn second Test, anchored the innings and looked solid in defence and hit only the loose balls as he notched seven fours.
Australia lost an early wicket when Phil Hughes played onto a delivery from Lakmal and was dismissed without scoring in the second over.

Shane Watson became debutant Eranga's maiden Test victim when he chased a wide ball and hit it to backward point where Tillakaratne Dilshan held the catch.