Cricket: Australia in total command for second Test against Sri Lanka
SRI LANKA found wickets hard to come by on day two of their second Test against Australia, with the hosts in complete control at the MCG.
After being skittled out for 156 yesterday, Sri Lanka returned to the field with Australia perched at 150 for three. By the close they had added 290 runs for the loss of five wickets, with their 440 for eight putting them 284 in front.
As has been the way for Australia in 2012, captain Michael Clarke glued everything together, with his 22nd Test hundred the standout innings, although he was ably assisted by Shane Watson (83) and Mitchell Johnson (73no).
In making 106, Clarke became the highest-ever Australian run-scorer in a calendar year, with his running tally of 1595 from 11 Tests better than Ricky Ponting’s 1544 in 15.
Already 1-0 down in a best-of-three series, Sri Lanka`s chances of heading home next month with something to their name are remote, especially with Australia adding runs from everywhere.
That Johnson, often maligned as a player, cracked his score from number eight shows what the tourists are up against.
Johnson provided a substantial roadblock in the final session of the day, with he, Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle upping the tea score of 332 for six to what it was at the close.
Two wickets did fall, though, with Hussey finding Rangana Herath - running backwards and away to his left for a brilliant one-handed take - off the occasional bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan for 34, and Siddle nicking Shaminda Eranga to the slips (13).
Before that, it had been all about Clarke and Watson whose 194 partnership was a fourth-wicket record at the MCG.
But after Clarke broke Ponting's record, Sri Lanka fought back with three wickets in quick succession.
Clarke chased a wide one from Eranga and was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, before Watson, in similar style to David Warner (62) on the opening day, holed out to Thilan Samaraweera at deep square leg off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad in the next over as Australia's score fell quickly to 313 for five.
It was a poor shot from Watson and the Australia vice-captain will rue the fact that he missed a golden chance to record his third Test century, having looked at ease in registering his 19th career fifty.
When Matthew Wade followed Watson and Warner's lead and hooked a short one from Prasad to Eranga on the boundary, Australia were reduced to 315 for six.
The tourists also could have had Hussey late in the session, but the veteran Australian was dropped by stand-in wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Rangana Herath and then survived a close call for lbw on the next delivery.
Sangakkara is keeping wicket in place of Prasanna Jayawardene, who sustained a thumb injury when dismissed by Johnson on the opening day.
Sri Lanka also picked up another injury early on the second day when paceman Chanaka Welegedara hurt his hamstring following a delivery in the first hour.
That has left Mahela Jayawardene without too many bowling options and the Sri Lanka captain has used Herath for the majority of the day from the members end of the ground.
Herath has bowled without much luck, with a couple of close lbw calls going against him and his skipper guilty of putting down Clarke when the Australian was on 54 - two runs short of breaking Ponting's record.