Australia take firm control of the first Test

Suranga Lakmal's five-wicket haul notwithstanding, Australia took a firm grip of the first Test. AFP

Half-centuries from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne and a last-ball strike by Pat Cummins put Australia firmly in command of the day-night Test against Sri Lanka at the Gabba in Brisbane on Friday.

Head hit a Test best 84 and Labuschagne posted 81 as Australia amassed 323 to hold an imposing 179-run innings lead over the Sri Lanka after the second day.

Sri Lanka lurched into further strife losing the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne on the last ball of the day by Cummins for three as the tourists had to negotiate tricky six overs facing the pink ball under lights.

Karunaratne was snapped up behind by Tim Paine as Sri Lanka reached stumps at 17 for one with Lahiru Thirimanne on six to trail by 162 runs overall and battling to avoid defeat with three days left.

Head was trapped leg before wicket by Suranga Lakmal, meaning no Australian batsman has scored a Test century in nine innings against India and Sri Lanka this summer.

Labuschagne was out shortly before dinner, also with a maiden Test century beckoning.

His patient 150-ball knock ended when he skipped down the wicket to lift a drive only to find the bottom of his bat and was taken at short mid-on by Thirimanne off Dhananjaya de Silva.

Sri Lanka grabbed a few wickets towards the end of Australia's innings. Cummins was unable to get off the mark in 21 balls before he was squared up by Dushmantha Chameera and tickled a catch behind to Niroshan Dickwella.

Skipper Paine was out first ball, edging a Lakmal outswinger to Kusal Mendis at second slip for a splendid low catch and young Test newcomer Kurtis Patterson showed promising resilience to bat for 82 balls before he was lbw to Lakmal for 30.

Mitchell Starc hit out lustily for 26 with four fours and a six before Jhye Richardson was the last wicket to fall, for one. Lakmal finished with five for 75.

"We are still in the game and we need to bat as long as we can and take a lead and put some pressure (on Australia) after tomorrow," Lakmal said.

"I treasure the Australian five (wickets) because I always had a dream of achieving a five-wicket haul in Australia and it's a dream come true."

 

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Australia take firm control of the first Test

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