Starc's ten-for powers Australia towards crushing victory

Mitchell Starc trimmed Dimuth Karunaratne's leg bail
Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Canberra February 04, 2019

Australia 5 for 534 dec (Burns 180, Head 161, Patterson 114*) and 3 for 196 dec (Khawaja 101*, Head 59*) beat Sri Lanka 215 (Karunaratne 59, Starc 5-54) and 149 (Starc 5-46) by 366 runs

A rampant Mitchell Starc devastated the Sri Lanka top order, sending the visitors hurtling to a fourth-day 366-run defeat at Canberra. Sri Lanka failed to reach a total of 200 for the third time in four innings in Australia; and none of their batsmen were able to cross fifty. They have now been winless since late October, and have lost six of the last seven Tests they have played.

For Starc, this Test has been an emphatic return to form, after a tough home summer. He sealed the victory with his tenth wicket in the match - the second time he has achieved a 10-for, the other occasion also having been against Sri Lanka. Starc was not quite as quick on day four as he had been in the first innings, but having alread roughed up a number of Sri Lanka batsmen in this Test, he was no less fearsome. He required only seven deliveries to make his first breakthrough of the morning, and from there, the wickets tumbled at an alarming rate. The visitors' highest partnership, between Kusal Mendis and debutant Chamika Karunaratne, was worth only 46. Pat Cummins was Australia's next-best bowler, claiming 3 for 15.

What will especially irk Sri Lanka is the swiftness of their surrender. Where in New Zealand they had fought with the bat, in the second innings at Wellington and Christchurch. On a Canberra pitch that saw three Australia batsmen make hundreds, only one Sri Lanka batsman played out over 100 deliveries (Lahiru Thirimanne in the first innings), and only one passed fifty (Dimuth Karunaratne, also in the first dig). Their best score in the second innings was Mendis' 42 off 69, and even that had been achieved only with a heaping of good fortune.

Here is a statistic that lays out how pitiful their batting has been across this series: never before, even when they were fresh to Test cricket in the 1980s, have they scored fewer runs in a two-Test series than their tally of 647 here. On average, each batsman only contributed a little over 17 runs.

Starc had triggered the collapse with the first ball of his second over in the morning, when he swung a ball deliciously late, moving it through the gate of opener Dimuth, to remove his leg-stump bail. Dinesh Chandimal was out later in Starc's first spell, edging an angled delivery to third slip on four. Cummins caught-and-bowled the dogged Thirimanne roughly midway through the session - the bowler hurling himself forward in his follow through to intercept a lob, centimetres above the pitch.

Starc then came back just before lunch to peg back the off stump of Niroshan Dickwella with a 147kph delivery, before immediately having a leaden-footed Kusal Perera caught behind. The wicket that completed his 10-for was that of No. 11 Vishwa Fernando, whom he bowled with a pinpoint yorker.

Mendis offered a modicum of resistance, hitting a four off his second ball, and generally playing with more freedom than he had previously in the series. He had an intriguing battle with Nathan Lyon, who almost had him caught sweeping, on the midwicket boundary, where Joe Burns took the catch and flung the balls back infield, but was shown to have touched the rope with his feet (though in any case, the relay catch was not complete by a team-mate).

But like several of his teammates, Mendis eventually fell softly, carving the legspin of Marnus Labuschagne straight to cover, where Kurtis Patterson took a comfortable catch.

The match was over before tea, Australia relieved to have so thoroughly dominated this series, after the chastening losses to India.

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