Australia strike late blows after Dimuth Karunaratne injury scare

Kurtis Patterson pulls
Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Canberra February 02, 2019

Sri Lanka 3 for 123 (Kusal 11*, Dhananjaya 1*) trail Australia 534 for 5 dec (Burns 180, Head 161, Patterson 114*, Vishwa 3-126) by 411 runs

Kurtis Patterson's maiden Test century propelled Australia to a commanding 5 for 534, before three late strikes seriously dented Sri Lanka's response - the hosts ending yet another day in the series in a dominant position against a beleaguered visiting side.

Having made three hundreds in their innings - the first Australian tons in the summer so far - Australia's attack then exerted tremendous pressure on a brittle Sri Lanka top order in the final hour of play. What had seemed like a profoundly dead pitch for much of the day was brought to life by Nathan Lyon, who gleaned substantially more turn and bounce from the surface than Sri Lanka's offspinner Dilruwan Perera had. Lyon made the first breakthrough, removing Lahiru Thirimanne, before Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc also claimed a wicket apiece with excellent deliveries.

The most pressing among Sri Lanka's concerns at stumps, however, was the wellbeing of opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, who suffered a blow to the back of the neck when he failed to get out of the way of a 142kph Cummins bouncer, about an hour before the close. Dimuth collapsed immediately, losing grip of his bat, and lay almost motionless as medical staff inspected and eventually stretchered him off the field, in order to take him for what it is hoped are merely precautionary scans.

Encouragingly, Dimuth was conscious throughout the episode, and was seen talking to the medics and moving his hands. But it is as-yet unclear whether he will be able to take any further part in the match.

Through the early parts of the day, it was woes of the cricketing kind that plagued Sri Lanka. Kasun Rajitha dismissed Joe Burns in the sixth over of the day, getting a ball to jag in at the batsman, who then chopped it on to his stumps to depart for 180. But that would be the only wicket in the 45 overs they delivered, before Australia declared. The only consolation for Sri Lanka was that Australia's score did not advance quite as quickly on day two as it had in parts of day one, owing partially to a slightly more disciplined showing with the ball.

Patterson, who had been dropped first ball on day one, began the morning on 25 not out, and although somewhat nervy in the early overs, as Sri Lanka's seamers gleaned movement from the second new ball, eventually settled into a happy rhythm. He was strongest through the covers, hitting half of his eventual 14 fours through that region, but was almost as good with the pull shot, as Sri Lanka's quicks repeatedly tested him with the short ball.

The bowlers had exerted pressure in the first 15 overs of the day, but once the ball stopped moving around, and Sri Lanka's discipline frayed, Patterson began to appear more and more immovable at the crease. He never quite scored as quickly as day one's centurions - Burns and Travis Head - had done, at times, but his batting was no less secure than either of those men. He reached a maiden half-century off the 100th ball he faced, and by this stage, seemed to have worn the opposition bowlers down. His second fifty was populated with strong shots square of the wicket - particularly through point as Sri Lanka sprayed the ball around, and through midwicket, when they tried to bounce him out.

Through the course of his innings, Patterson struck up an unbeaten 130-run stand with Tim Paine. When Paine made the declaration about halfway through the middle session, Patterson was on 114 off 192 balls, and Paine on 45 - the prospect of a half-century not enough to tempt Paine to delay the declaration slightly.

Sri Lanka's openers had begun their innings in promising fashion, seeing out the 13 overs until tea without incident - largely secure in defence against the new ball. Lyon, however, caused both left-handers a few problems early in the third session, but it nevertheless appeared as if both batsmen were comfortable at the crease.

But the nasty blow to Karunaratne, and the consequent stoppage in play, changed the complexion of the session. The over after the injury break, Lahiru Thirimanne pushed at a turning Lyon ball outside off stump, and edged to slip. A few overs later, Kusal Mendis was bowled on his 24th birthday by a Cummins ball that angled in, and seamed away slightly, to evade the outside of Mendis' bat, and rattle off stump. It was the second such delivery that has dismissed Mendis in this series, with Jhye Richardson having also bowled him in Brisbane.

Finally, with only two full overs before stumps, Starc had Dinesh Chandimal caught behind. At first shaping to pull the short delivery, Chandimal made the late decision to duck it, but the ball caught his glove on its way to the wicketkeeper. Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva were not out at the close - Sri Lanka having opted not to use a nightwatchman.

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