Sri Lanka flunk the Gabba examination

Niroshan Dickwella shapes up to play the ramp
Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day January 26, 2019

They came hoping they could compete. In the end Sri Lanka were beaten in less than eight sessions at the Gabba. Given the history and conditions it was always a long shot even taking into account Australia's own problems, but the capitulation was still a woeful performance.

Sri Lanka's run tally of 283 over the two innings was their second-lowest in Australia behind Darwin in 2004 and Melbourne in 2012. This wasn't quite as bruising as the latter of those two contests when Sri Lanka's second innings ended with only seven batsmen out, due to two being unable to bat and another having retired hurt, but it was a pretty brutal experience nonetheless.

The batsmen appeared to have come through physically unscathed, but Lahiru Kumara has been ruled out of the rest of this series and the South Africa tour with a hamstring injury and Dushmantha Chameera has also picked up an niggle.

Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson bowled exceptionally well, while Nathan Lyon was an excellent support act to ensure a below-par Mitchell Starc was accommodated. It left a crestfallen Dinesh Chandimal, who himself had fallen for scores of 5 and 0 in the match, short of answers.

"Credit to the way they bowled. We don't want to give excuses," he said. "But we need to find ways to score runs. As I said before the game started our main concern was our inability to post a decent total in the first innings. That's one area we need to improve."

Unlike in New Zealand recently, where their second-innings performances showed improvement in both Tests, this time it was even worse than the opening day as they folded for 139. Few gave them a chance of escape when the third day began, but they were hoping for a contest - instead it was done and dusted by lunch with Sri Lanka five down.

While some were victims of fine pace bowling from Cummins and Richardson, there was a helping hand in a few dismissals and foremost among them was Kusal Mendis, who entered the series with significant expectations and the need to carry a batting order without Angelo Mathews, when he drove widely at Cummins and edged to slip.

The captain himself had already gone, fending a delivery into the gully off Cummins, but Chandimal said he would be continuing at No. 3. "I used to bat at five because I had to take gloves as a wicketkeeper. [Niroshan] Dickwella has shaped up well. I being an experienced player need to come up the order and take up the responsibility."

Sri Lanka's previous experience of facing Cummins had been just three T20Is back in 2017 in which only two of this team - Mendis and Dickwella - had featured. On the type of surface the Australians have been dreaming of all season, but had only really materialised before in Perth, it was always going to be a tough ask.

In victory, Tim Paine graciously acknowledged the difficulty of conditions. "For Sri Lanka to come to the Gabba first up is really, really tough. It's out of their comfort zone," he said. "It's hard for the Australians to come from the southern states to play on that wicket with the extra bounce. We expect Canberra will probably suit them a little bit better and we'll have to be on top of our game again to beat them."

Canberra, hosting its first Test next week, will be an unknown for both teams - evidenced by Australia's decision to call up the uncapped allrounder Marcus Stoinis - and Sri Lanka will be hoping for a surface where the bounce is more stump height than chest height. Even then, however, you wonder whether they can lift themselves after these tough few days in Brisbane.

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