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  • Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 3rd day

Australia thrash Sri Lanka to seal series

The Report by Daniel Brettig at the MCG
December 28, 2012
Australia 460 (Clarke 106, Johnson 92*, Watson 83, Warner 62, Prasad 3-106, Eranga 3-109) beat Sri Lanka 156 and 103 (Johnson 2-16, Bird 2-29) by an innings and 201 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Mitchell Johnson was left unbeaten on 92 after Nathan Lyon and Jackson Bird fell quickly © Getty Images
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In his summary of the 1974-75 Ashes series, Wisden's correspondent John Thicknesse wrote of the havoc wrought by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson that "England's batsmen must have experienced the same sort of emotion as they waited for the next ball as early Christians felt as they waited in the Colosseum for the lions."

Sri Lanka's batsmen were wracked by that same feeling of helplessness and inevitability as Australia completed a fearful mauling of the tourists in the Boxing Day Test, as the incisiveness of the home bowling attack combined with a dreadful glut of injuries to have the match over by 2.10pm on the third afternoon. The fall of Sri Lanka's seventh wicket, fittingly to a short-pitched ball, meant the end of the contest, as none of Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welegedara or Kumar Sangakkara were fit to bat.

Sangakkara had suffered a suspected finger fracture at the hands of the man of the match Mitchell Johnson, who began the day by guiding Australia's tail to a lead of 304 and ended it as the chief inflictor of pain on a Sri Lankan team that was overwhelmed even more comprehensively than India had been last year.

Australia's victory was a reward for a consistently diligent and aggressive pursuit of victory, though it was hard to define how well they had played given the collective weakness of their opponents, who had clearly thrown their best and only punch in Hobart. Nonetheless it was a triumphant way for Michael Clarke's team to conclude the year, even if they had their own injury worry in the shape of Shane Watson's problematic calf.

The destruction of Sri Lanka's innings began in the first over. Dimuth Karunaratne was farcically run out after taking his team's first run, and next ball Tillakaratne Dilshan squeezed a Johnson short ball to short leg. Jackson Bird again made a striking impression, deceiving Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera with his immaculate line and a little movement in either direction.

Bird and Nathan Lyon had failed to keep Johnson company for long enough to allow the left-hander his second Test hundred after a rasping effort in Cape Town in 2009, but this was to seem of little consequence once the Sri Lankans began batting.

Lyon's intention when play resumed had to be to hang around while Johnson pushed towards his second Test century. However his actions did not match the goal, as after taking a single to get off a duck he was late on a pull shot at Angelo Mathews and lobbed the simplest of catches to midwicket.

That left Johnson with the company of only the last man Bird, who with a first-class batting average of 8.22 was certainly entitled to his station beneath Lyon in the order. Needing another 17 runs when Bird walked tot he middle, Johnson set about the task with good sense, pinching singles here and there while also driving Mathews sweetly down the ground.

He had made it as far as 92 when Bird faced up to Shaminda Eranga, who delivered a ball that was fast, full and more or less wasted on the batsman, who was comically late as the ball crashed into middle and off stumps. Johnson accepted a gesture of consolation from Bird before jogging off the field, assuming his next task of taking the new ball in the second innings.

Johnson did not have long to wait for a celebration, Karaunaratne pushing into the offside third ball of the innings and setting off fatally for a second run as David Warner fielded and threw sharply back to the bowler, whose dive to break the stumps beat Karunaratne comfortably. Dilshan's first ball was short, fast and at the batsman's armpit, forcing a self-preservative stroke that lopped off glove and thigh for Ed Cowan to run back and catch - 1 for 2.

Jayawardene's decline as an international batsman on foreign shores has been dispiriting for those who have witnessed his best, and here he was defeated by Bird's line, unsure whether to play or leave and withdrawing his bat too late to avoid a wretched inside edge onto the stumps.

Samaraweera played Bird uncertainly from the crease, and when the bowler seamed one back at him was pinned in front for a clear LBW, the batsman's DRS referral made more out of desperation than calculation. Replays duly showed the ball striking leg stump, leaving Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews to limp to the interval.

Not long after lunch, Sangakkara winced when fending a Johnson delivery off the glove and shook his head forlornly when the team physio examined the damage. He left the field to become the third Sri Lankan sent to hospital during the match, and the remainder of the innings was not to be long in returning to the dressing room.

Mathews dragged an attempted pull shot onto the stumps, Dhammika Prasad followed two consecutive sixes off the bowling of Lyon by skying a vain attempt at a third, and Eranga was cornered by a short-pitcher from Peter Siddle and plopped a catch to Ed Cowan at short leg. The innings had felt as much blood sport as Test match, and like the 1974-75 Englishmen, Sri Lanka were much the bloodier.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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