Marnus Labuschagne on Friday said he and fellow centurion Steve Smith had been due for big scores after the pair gave Australia opening day honors against a Covid-hit Sri Lanka in the second Test on Friday. The tourists reached 298 for five at stumps after electing to bat first in their bid to clinch the two-match series in Galle.
“Both of us felt like we’d left some runs out there for the last few Tests. So it was nice to cash in when we got an opportunity,” Labuschagne told reporters.
“From last week I was very disappointed. Probably just going away from my process rather than the dismissal,” he said
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) July 8, 2022
On Steve Smith, Marnus said: “And obviously Smudge got run out (in the last Test). The boys said this morning when he rocked up to the ground, he was in the Smudge (Smith) headspace and he looked locked in.”
Smith, on 109, and wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, on 16, were batting at close of play after debutant left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya took three wickets.
But it was the 134-run third-wicket stand between Labuschagne, who made 104, and Smith that remained the highlight of the day’s play.
Smith, who got run out for six in the opener, smashed fast bowler Kasun Rajitha for a cracking cover drive to bring up his 28th Test hundred as he raised his bat to an applauding dressing room.
It was the former captain’s first hundred since January last year during the third Test against India in Sydney. Labuschagne, who made 13 in the opener, recorded his seventh Test century and his first away from home in an attacking knock before Jayasuriya got him stumped at the stroke of tea.
“Nice to get that one off the back,” said Labuschagne, whose previous six tons came on home pitches.
“Obviously it’s the first one away from home and to contribute and put the team in a position like we did today was very nice.”
– ‘Be smart as a bowler’ –
The 30-year-old Jayasuriya took his spin-charge into the final session to get Travis Head bowled for 12, and Cameron Green trapped lbw for four.
But Smith and the left-handed Carey anchored the innings from there to deny any more wickets to the hosts.
Carey, who made 45 in Australia’s crushing opening win last week, once again made his intentions clear early in his knock with a reverse sweep for four off Jayasuriya.
Labuschagne believes their spinners Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson will get “more turn” on this wicket.
Earlier, Sri Lanka struck with their lone pace bowler Kasun Rajitha, sending back David Warner for five in the fifth over of the day.
Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis cleaned up Usman Khawaja for 37 before lunch but Labuschagne stood firm and hit back with boundaries.
Labuschagne, who survived a missed morning stumping on 28 by Niroshan Dickwella, and Smith both handled the spinners with ease until their stand ended.
“They have a lot of experience. They don’t let a bowler settle. They try to break a bowler’s rhythm,” said Jayasuriya.
“That’s what they tried to do and you need to be smart as a bowler.”
The hosts handed Test caps to spinners Maheesh Theekshana and Jayasuriya along with all-rounder Kamindu Mendis after a coronavirus outbreak in their team.
Ramesh, who took four wickets in the previous match, and Jayasuriya bowled a majority of the 90 overs while Theekshana, a mystery spinner, and Rajitha got the rest.
Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 count went up to five on the eve of the final Test but Angelo Mathews returned to the team after he was forced out by an infection midway through the first match.