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Australia v Sri Lanka
The Daily News - 8-12 December 1995


We are a very young, positive side, says Arjuna - John Yarwood

Sri Lanka have their best weapons ever to give Australia a run for their money in the three-Test cricket series starting here Friday, the tourists' skipper said here Thursday.

Captain Arjuna Ranatunga expressed this view enthusiastically Thursday as his side prepared to take on the world champions in Australia, following the home team's recent 2-1 victory over Pakistan.

More vulnerable

Australia have an excellent record at the riverside WACA Ground, but Ranatunga is confident his much-improved outfit can at least make the home country work hard for success.

``Australia may be more vulnerable than they have ever been before against us now that we have two good spinners and a top-ranking paceman,'' he said.

He believes off-spinner Muttiah Muralidharan and left-arm spinner Jayantha Silva can trouble Australia's batsmen in much the same way as Pakistan's leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed in the recent series here.

``In addition, our ace left-arm paceman Chaminda Vaas has overcome injury and is now 100 percent fit,'' he said.

``We are the underdogs in this series and that puts more pressure on Australia.''

A chance

Ranatunga said he had often dreamed of beating Australia in a Test and now there was a chance after losing four and drawing three of the seven matches between the two countries.

``We are a very young, positive side. Our fielding has improved and we have three bowlers who can take wickets,'' he said.

``Our players are deeply committed for their country.''

Ranatunga said expectations of success were high in Sri Lanka after his side won in New Zealand, Pakistan and Sharjah.

Every game

``Everyone now expects us to win every game,'' he said. ``People think we should win the Test series here, the one-day series and the World Cup next year.

``But we know we have our limitations. We have come to give 100 per cent and I think we can win a couple of games.

``Everyone at home is keen on cricket rather than the other problems we have,'' an apparent reference to recent strife in the island.

``If we can do well here, there will be a lot of smiling faces back home - and that is important to us.''

Australian captain Mark Taylor agreed that Muralidharan was an outstanding bowler who would test his players.

``He turns the ball a lot and will be a force,'' Taylor said.

The big difference between this Sri Lanka team and earlier ones is that they have learned how to win, Taylor said.

``They have especially learned how to win away series, and they will be a lot tougher than previously,'' he said.

Day 1

Sri Lanka shot out for 251 against Australia - Bernie Wijesekera

With a fighting innings of 50, wicket keeper batsman Romesh Kaluwitharana helped Sri Lanka to make 251 all out on the opening day of their first Test against Australia at the WACA grounds in Perth on Friday. It was the attractive innings of Kaluwitharana and a 46-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Kumara Dharmasena (30) and Pramodya Wickremasinghe (28) which gave some respectability to their total after skipper Arjuna Ranatunga elected to bat first.

No. 3 bat Asanka Gurusinha scored a patient innings of 46.

Craig McDermott (3 for 44), Glen McGrath (4 for 89) and Shane Warne (3 for 75) shared the bowling honours for Australia.

The match got underway on a cool and sunny day, but watched by a poor crowd. Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga won the vital toss and elected to bat on a pitch, which in the early part of the first session had some bounce, but later on played true.

The openers Roshan Mahanama and Chandika Hatuhurusinghe walked out to the middle amidst the cheers of a band of Sri Lankan supporters waving the Lion flag. Both batsmen with immense concentration had no difficulty in coping with the hostile bowling of McDermott and Glen McGrath. Roshan opened scoring when he neatly steered McDermott through gully for 3. The first four of the innings came from Hathurusinghe when he drove McGrath for a crunching shot through the covers. But in the fifth over of the bowler, the batsman got an outside edge to the waiting hands of debutant Stuart Law at gully for 14 (in 32 balls with 2 fours) - 25 for 1.

Asanka Gurusinha, playing his second match on the tour, joined Mahanama and showed no signs of his thumb injury when the lefthander stroked the ball confidently. The pair was content to play a long innings to build the innings with watchful cricket against the Aussie attack capably marshalled by Taylor.

McDermott after his first spell of 4-1-13-0, was introduced to the attack again which proved fruitful.

In Craig's last ball of the sixth over, he had Mahanama well held by Warne at third slip for a dour 15 made in 80 mts. with a four. With Sri Lanka struggling at 38 for 2, Aravinda de Silva, the seasoned campaigner joined Asanka. He slashed one over the cordon off McGrath for four. But Taylor made a quick change in bringing Shane Warne in place of McDermott.

After a maiden in the first over, Warne in his next over had 'Ara' bamboozled. In the fifth ball, Aravinda was lucky to survive when Mark Waugh, at silly point, failed to hold on to a diving catch. But a desperate shot in the next ball gave the bowler a return catch for 10, to continue his run of low scores.

At lunch Sri Lanka was in dire straits - 54 for 3 in 28 overs. On resumption, Arjuna Ranatunga who joined Asanka, brought forth a glimmer of hope, when the pair took control of the innings with some determined batting. Both players were batting with assurance and showed no respect to Warne's crafty bowling. Asanka hammered Warne for two fours, while Arjuna cracked him over long-on for a six.

The 50 run stand for the fourth-wicket came in 14 overs and the 100 was hoisted in the 42nd over.

Arjuna batting adroitly put much pressure on Warne, who was eventually removed. With the flourishing stand on 75, McGrath was brought on from the press box end. In Glen's third ball of his 15th over, Arjuna was out caught by Healy for an invaluable 32, made in 54 balls (with 2 fours) 129 for 4. Three runs later Gurusinghe on 46, attempted to hit McGrath over the bowler's head, but only to see his off stump uprooted. Asanka, had 4 fours in his knock made in 140 balls in 175 mts.

Romesh Kaluwitharne, in the eleventh hour, was preferred to Dunusinghe to give that much needed depth to the batting, and joined Tillekeratne. 'Kalu,' much remembered by the Australians for his savage 132 on his debut at the SSC ground in 1992, threw caution to the winds. He hammered 25 n.o. in 25 balls and at tea it was 162 for 5, with Tillekeratne on 6. McGrath was the most successful bowler with 3 for 59.

After tea, Kaluwitharne, played some streaky shots and was lucky to survive a caught and bowled chance off Warne. Tillekeratne struggled for 6 runs in 68 mts fell leg-before to McDermott - 172 for 6.

Day 2

Slater hammers Sri Lanka with highest Test score - Bernie Wijesekera

A record-breaking opening stand of 228 runs between Michael Slater (189 not out with five sixers and 13 fours) and skipper Mark Taylor (96) put Australia in a strong position - scoring 358 for 2 wickets at close of play on day two here today.

On the first day, Sri Lanka were out in the last over for 251.

With a lead of 107 runs and eight wickets in hand, Australia will go for the kill and attempt to pile on the runs tomorrow.

Slater made Sri Lanka's inexperienced bowlers look ordinary and made his highest Test score of 189 not out and Mark Waugh dropped at nought by wicketkeeper Kaluwitharana, is 36 not out and these two are bound to make more runs tomorrow.

The high note of today's play was the batting of Slater, who surpassed two records in the series against Sri Lanka. The first wicket stand stood at 120 between Marsh and David Boon in the 1988-89 series played in Australia. Slater's 189 is also the highest made by an Australian against Sri Lanka.

Salter showed remarkable mental toughness during his marathon innings. There was no pushing and prodding, but handsome strokes from the middle of his bat. He had five sixes, four of them being off Sri Lanka's off-spinner Muttiah Muralitheran and the other off Kumara Dharmasena.

Slater's previous best Test score was 176 against England in the first Test at Brisbane in November 1994. The only blemish in his innings was when Muralitharan failed to take a return catch when Slater was on 159.

The two catches dropped by Kaluwitharana and Muralitharan off his own bowling cost Sri Lanka dearly. Four batsmen should have been back in the pavilion and not two.

This was slater's seventh Test hundred and it came in 179 minutes (first 100) and off 128 balls.

Muralitharan took one for 132 off 30 overs and Aravinda de Silva one for 20 off 10 overs.

Day 3

Bernie Wijesekara reporting from Australia

The Australians, who were 358 for 2 on Saturday, went on to hold an iron grip on the game on day three, in the first test match against Sri Lanka when they went onto amass 617 for 5 dec., in reply to the Lankans first innings total of 251, here today.

The Aussies led by 366 runs and Sri Lanka has an uphill task to save this game within the next two days _ 13 for no loss in five overs at close. With McDermott troubled by the run-up with two no-balls. Taylor in the last over brought in Shane Warne, who nearly had Haturusinghe caught at silly point when the ball turned appreciably in his last delivery.

It has to be resolute back to the wall batting by the top order batsmen if Sri Lanka are to stall the Aussies of taking a 1-0 lead in this three test series, when play begins today.

The feature of the final session was the batting of test debutantes Ricky Ponting, who made an excellent 96. He was on his way to a dream debut test 100, but was ruled out by umpire Hayat off Vass. Ponting playing back, but the ball hit high, though the neutral umpire thought otherwise.

Both Stuart Law 54 not out and Ponting made runs with intelligent running between the wickets. Ponting, who was predicted by his AIS coach Rod Marsh to get his debut 100 but was lucky not to be out at nought had Mahanama being placed closer in the slips against 'Murali'. Ricky had 8 fours in his 96 made in 184 balls in 236 mts, while Law grafted 54 n.o., in a business-like manner, in 118 balls, with a four, in 153 minutes. The Ponting-Law stand for the fifth wicket added 121 runs.

Vaas 2 for 103 in 31 overs and 'Murali' endured for 54 overs to capture 2 for 224.

Crowd _ 8928.

It was Waugh's tenth test 100. Earlier he got one against Pakistan in Sydney.

The 617 for 5 dec., is the highest by Australia against Sri Lanka. The previous best was 514 for 4 in Kandy.

After a gruelling second day in the heat it was yet another toiling third day for the Sri Lankan team here, today.

Michael Slated on 189 and Mark Waugh, who was dropped by 'keeper Kaluwitharane continued their adventurous partnership from 266, to further torment the friendly Lankan attack. The new ball had no effect on the batsmen who kept scoring rapidly to mount the total to the 400- run mark continuing from their overnight score of 358 for 2.

Slater's mission was to score more runs and he duly achieved his double-hundred in his test career.

He drove Wickremasinghe for two successive fours to race to 198. Thereafter a couple of watchful overs steered 'Wicks' for two runs to the on, to reach his 200 amidst rounds of applause by the crowd. When he reached 201 he became the highest scorer surpassing the 200 made by David Boon at the WACA, against New Zealand.

Slater's 200 came in 402 mts. 289 balls, with 15 fours and five sixes. Finally the attractive 156-run stand for the third-wicket between Slater and Mark Waugh came to a halt, when 'Murali' held a return catch to remove Slater for 219 in the bowler's 33rd over, fourth ball.

The fourth wicket stand realised 156 runs. Waugh contributed 70 runs to the stand. Slater's marathon knock had 15 fours and five sixes made in 321 balls in 460 mts.

Debutant Ricky Ponting joined Waugh next at the wicket. In the next ball Ponting dangerously steered the first ball of his Test career through the slips, which felt short of the waiting hands of Mahanama, for four.

At lunch, Australia were 439 for 3 - Waugh on 80, Ponting was 7. After the luncheon break Waugh duly completed his 100, in 212 balls with 7 fours. After four ducks in-a-row. Finally Waugh's innings came to an end when Kaluwitharana had him caught off Vaas for 111.

The fourth-wicket stand of 76 runs with Ponting, boosted the total to 496 for 4.

At tea Australia were 544 for 4.

The controversial Muttiah Muralideran's action was forgotten on the second day's play in the first Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia in Perth on Saturday. 'Murali's action was found to be good despite close scrutiny.

But the alleged ball tampering in the 17th over off Muralideran, stirred a hornet's next and received wide prominence in the media here today. According to a statement given to the media after the second day's play by match referee Graham Dowling, it states, 'During the first session, umpire Hayat when undertaking one of the regular examinations of the ball found that it appeared to have been tampered with. He had also showed it to his colleague Peter Parker. The Sri Lankan captain, too was notified that the condition of this ball had been tampered with by a player or, players, of the team during the course of the 17th over. The umpires said that they would take appropriate action, if there was any further attempt to tamper with the ball.

This was brought to the notice of the tour management Dowling adds.

The Sunday Times on its page one headlined a story 'Sri Lankans disgraced'! The Sri Lankans amazingly were not punished. It also says 'Apart from English captain Mike Atherton's dirt-in-thepocket affair against South Africa, it is believed to be the only incident in history in which a Test team has been found guilty of ball tampering.

The International Cricket Council code of conduct point 7, says that players and team officials are not permitted to comment upon any alleged breach of the code or upon any hearing, report or decisions arising from such breach. However, if there was alleged tampering of the ball, and if the umpire noticed it why did he continue with the said ball until the new ball was due, is the question posed by the media here.

It's a pity that such an allegation is made against a team when they are not even permitted to defend themselves.

Day 4

Bernie Wijesekara reporting from Australia

Australia beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 36 runs on the fourth day of the first test at the WACA ground on Monday. Scores: Sri Lanka 251 and 330, Australia 617 for five declared.

Sri Lanka's tough No. 6 lefthanded bat Hashan Tillekeratne played an epoch-making 119 (with 12 fours, 206 balls, in 267 mts.) on the penultimate day which made the Australians to bowl 3.4 overs in the final session after the allotted 90 overs to win by an innings and 36 runs the first test match played here today.

The Aussies take a 1-0 lead in the three-test series.

It was an herculean task for the Lankans to avoid defeat but they fought back well thanks to Tillakaratne's great innings, one of the finest seen at the WACA in recent times.

Sri Lanka made 330 all out with Tillekeratne last man out for a heroic 119.

Hashan, who was on 75 not out at tea with Romesh Kaluwitharne on 39 added 65 runs for the sixth wicket in 40 balls. But he changed his approach and played a more defensive role to keep the Aussies toiling.

The introduction of the second new ball broke the dogged seventh wicket stand of 52 runs with Kumar Dharmasena 18. But it was a dubious leg before decision by umpire Paul Parker.

Tillekaratne completed his 100 with two runs off McDermott in 156 balls with 12 fours in 203 mts. In the process he became the third Lankan batsman to complete 2000 test runs. Shane Warne who came in for a severe caning from Arjuna's and Hashan captured his 200th test wicket in 42 tests when he had Vaas caught by Healy off a skier.

Earlier Tillekeratne made 100s against Zimbabwe and Pakistan (abroad).

Sri Lanka left with an imposing target of 366 runs to avert an innings defeat on the fourth day of their test match against Australia, were struggling at 120 for four at lunch here today.

The Lankans continuing with their overnight not out batsmen openers Mahanama and Hathurusinghe on 13 for no loss, started quietly against the hostile bowling of Glen McGrath and McDermott. McGrath, who looked more dangerous of the two with his late swing got the first breakthrough when he had Hathurusinghe caught behind by Healy for 11 runs made in 34 balls (one four) in 35 mts.

Mahanama batting with assurance was joined by lefthander Gurusinha. Both players were bent on playing a long and responsible innings to restore the batting. But McDermott fired a vicious delivery when Gurusinha had no time to pull away and was caught by Healy for 7 - 56 for 2.

Aravinda de Silva then joined Mahanama. 'Ara' was in sheer desperation to play a long innings to restore his image after his dismal batting performances on this tour to date, other than for his 64 in the one-dayer at Devonport. 'Ara' on the look out for runs made a rapid 20 with 4 fours.

But Shane Warne again caused his dismissal for the second time in this match, when Ricky Ponting held a brilliant diving catch at covers. Again it was 'Aravinda's impetuosity that saw his demise. 87 for 3. Meanwhile Mahanama playing his best knock in his 16 Test innings, on 43 was joined by Sri Lanka's man of steel Arjuna Ranatunga.

Arjuna got into his stride when he hit Warne for a superb six over long-on. When Mahanama was 48, McGrath struck again, with a stinging inswing to york Mahanama, when the batsman attempted to drive and was beaten and bowled 104 for 4. Roshan had six fours in his 48 made in 97 balls in 128 mts.

At lunch Sri Lanka were 120 for 4 with Arjuna on 15 and Tillekeratne on 11. After the adjournment both batsmen batted beautifully in a stroke-filled partnership that brought some respectability to the Lankan innings. Both Hashan and Arjuna were pretty harsh on Warne. Taylor replaced Warne who was on 199 runs with one short for his 200 in his 31st test. Tillekeratne timing his shots with precision went ahead of Ranatunga to score an immaculate 50 in 60 balls in 65 mts with 7 fours.

It was the best batting performance in this Test match by these two seasoned campaigners. Hitting out with gusto Arjuna departed at 46 when the batsman was bowled by McGrath with six fours and six, made in 64 balls in the third ball of the bowler's 19th over - 193 for 5. The fifth wicket added 89 invaluable runs. Tillekeratne the tough No. 6 batsman batting with growing confidence was on 75 at tea, just four runs away from his 2000 test runs.

At tea they were 256 for 5.

Ponting after tea held a fantastic catch inches from the ground at square-leg to dismiss ''Kalu'' in the first ball of Julian the second over after tea. Kaluwitharana made 40 in 42 balls 258 for 6.

M.Slater was the man of the match.

Source: The Daily News