Australia vs Sri Lanka second Test, Steve Smith century, record, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Travis Head form woes, video, highlights

Australia vs Sri Lanka second Test, Steve Smith century, record, Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Travis Head form woes, video, highlights

Steve Smith won’t need to do any shadow batting on Friday night.

The Australian’s one-year drought is over as the prolific run-scorer registered his 28th century to remind his English friends he still remains a force to be reckoned with.

His innings came just at the right time, having watched England carry on like world beaters after four straight wins to start the English summer following a year from hell.

MATCH CENTRE: Australia vs Sri Lanka, second Test, live scoreboard But as Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow scored runs for fun, Smith tossed and turned and eventually his frustration boiled over after his horror mix-up with Usman Khawaja in the first Test against Sri Lanka.

On Friday he walked off the field 109 not out to help guide Australia to 5-298 at stumps on day one of the second Test.

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Smith wasn’t the only one who scored his first century of the year, as first-drop Marnus Labuschagne (104) reached three-figures for the first time overseas before falling to Prabath Jayasuriya who snared 3-90.

Earlier, Kasun Rajitha had bowled David Warner with a lovely off-cutter which had left Australia 1-15.

Usman Khawaja then failed to reach 50 for the first time this year against the red ball as he was bowled by a cracking Ramesh Mendis delivery too.

But the first day was all about Smith’s long-awaited century.


Smith saved his best shot of his innings to date to bring up three figures.

Just as he drove audaciously on the up in England in 2019 when he was at his pomp, the right-hander smoked a cover drive to the fence in Galle.

By doing so, he ended his year-long drought and registered just his second century since his famous Ashes campaign.

At once his smile returned. The relief written over his face.

Steve Smith reaching his first century in more than a year in Galle. Photo: Getty Images
Steve Smith reaching his first century in more than a year in Galle. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

A week earlier he had walked off the ground furiously at his teammate for robbing his chance of registering another mountain on his batting chart, but there was nothing stopping the 33-year-old from posting his 28th century on Friday.

Smith was in a mood.

When he pushed the ball off Mendis into the covers and moved to his half-century Smith barely reacted. The Australian flags waved in the wind, his teammates clapped and reluctantly he walked back down the pitch to shake his partner’s hand before the most modest of raised bats to the pavilion.

If ever there was a more determined look for a man whose position was as safe as houses and in the midst of a series with little fanfare, this was it.

Nonetheless, given the next Test is four months away, the importance of Smith’s 28th century should not be understated.

He can put his baggy green away safely at the end of the series without the long desire to prove to himself he can still dominate Test cricket.

While his record had remained better than most over the previous two years, he had watched others, Joe Root namely, and more recently Jonny Bairstow chalk up centuries for fun.

THE MOMENTS, Root and Bairstow hit 100’s | 02:05

Now Smith has joined the party and like Root left Virat Kohli behind, with the duo passing the former Indian skipper who has 27 centuries to his name.

Smith also went past former Protest skipper Graham Smith and Australian great Allan Border by notching the milestone.

He also moved past Mark Waugh *8029 runs) into sixth-place on Australia’s leading Test run-scorers, which saw the NSW batter’s average go past 60 once more.


A right-hander runs in from around-the-wicket, the ball hits the corridor of uncertainty, it nips away slightly and David Warner is all at-sea, with his footwork leaving him stranded before his off-stump is pegged back.

It all sounds a little familiar.

That story belonged to Warner on day one of the second Test as he was rocked by Kasun Rajitha in the fifth over for five.

That story is also a major piece of his Ashes narrative after a tortured 2019 series facing Stuart Broad.

Australia’s David Warner’s dismissal by Sri Lanka’s Kasun Rajitha. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

Warner has enjoyed his time for Australia since that series, plundering runs against Pakistan and New Zealand at home, winning a T20 World Cup and the Ashes — again — before making some respectable scores in Pakistan in March.

His dismissal on Friday, however, will serve as a reminder for the opener that the tune around his game will change again very shortly.

LIVE: Marnus cashing in on shock blunder; Smith’s big chance as Khawaja rocked

The next Ashes series on English soil is already only a year away — and Warner’s last trip there was a nightmare.

Barring a shock decision, Warner will make the tour and head back with a major score to settle.

Warner averages just 26.04 in England, and averaged less than 10 in the 2019 series that saw Broad dismiss him seven times in the space of 104 balls.

Warner castled by an absolute ripper | 00:40

Broad’s success largely came from around-the-wicket, and it remains an Achilles’ heel in Warner’s game.

Sri Lanka targeted it well on Friday. Warner would do well to heed the wake-up call now.


Marnus Labuschagne can finally tick off an important box in his Test career.

He is now a Test century-maker in away conditions, reaching triple figures in his 14th innings away from home.

While that is not a massive amount of innings, the fact he had gone past 40 in seven of those, but had not made more than his 90 in Rawalpindi, became a cause for concern.

When Labuschagne was on 28, it looked like the Sri Lanka series might slip through his fingers, too, when he was beaten all-ends-up by spinner Ramesh Mendis.

Wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella bundled the chance — and Labuschagne was on his way.

There’s nothing quite like a brush with death to sharpen the senses, as it did for Labuschagne, who was nearly faultless from that point.

Labuschagne is no stranger to making the most of second, third and even fourth chances.

Against India in January 2021, he was dropped on 48 at first slip on his way to a team-leading 108.

Every boundary from Marnus’ century! | 02:24

In December, Labuschagne was grassed a whopping three times by England’s bumbling fielders as he made 103.

His century on Friday made it a hat-trick of triple figure scores in Test cricket in which Labuschagne has made the opposition rue a mistake.

The Australian No.3 now finds himself in elite company, becoming just the 20th Australian to score a Test century in Asia this century to join teammates David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith.


When Australia lifted the Ashes and celebrated their four-nil series win in Hobart, Travis Head looked to have finally cemented his place in the side.

His centuries in Brisbane and Hobart were as destructive as they were match-changing.

When England sensed they had an opportunity, the left-hander went on the attack and took the game away from his opponents. It was compelling batting.

Head’s positive Covid result ahead of the New Year threatened to end his run of form, but even with Usman Khawaja shifting to the top of the order Head showed how effective he can be in the middle order.

But a worrying trend had reappeared which once again could plague his stop-start career.

While Head was phenomenal at the top of the order against the white ball in Pakistan, he missed out against the red ball.

He finished with a top score of 26 from three Tests, where he was removed three times and finished 11 not out in the second innings of the third Test in Lahore.

Travis Head was bowled cheaply on day one of the second Test in Galle. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Two failures in Sri Lanka have once again raised questions about Head’s ability to play overseas.

After falling for six in the first Test, Head was bowled for 12 on Friday.

Reluctantly Head left after replays confirmed Prabath Jayasuriya’s left-arm orthodox spinner hadn’t spun at all and instead gone straight on and shaved the off-stump.

Head now averages an unflattering 24.93 outside of Australia from 11 Tests – a number that includes the two neutral Tests against Pakistan in 2018.

With crunch series against India and England next year, they are numbers that will concern George Bailey and his selection panel.

Head has runs in the bank following his memorable Ashes campaign, but playing in India following successive series defeats on home soil will require a complete team effort as Australia seeks to win back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Currently though, Head seems not to have developed a plan to survive and thrive on spinning conditions where the ball can either turn big or go on straight.

Where Usman Khawaja has discovered an unusual method where he clears his front leg and trusts his eye to get the bat down in time, Head seems bamboozled on what next to do.

He’s not the first to struggle in the spin-friendly conditions either.

But with Glenn Maxwell waiting in the wings on the sub-continent and Ashton Agar a capable bowling all-rounder, Head will be looking over his shoulder.

For the time being he might be getting in the ear of Pat Cummins and trying to ask for more of a bowl following his remarkable 4-10 in the first Test in Galle.

Then there is England, where Head is one of a number of Australians to have struggled in the United Kingdom.

Head averages just 27.28 from his four Tests in England during the 2019 campaign.

They are numbers that will leave Australia’s selectors with food for thought.

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Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne (L) was given an early life by Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella on the first day of second Test match on July 8, 2022. Photo AFPSource: AFP


For the second straight Test Sri Lanka will be kicking themselves.

After struggling in the first Test behind the stumps, wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella once again had a forgettable day.

The experienced glover missed two regulation stumpings by giving Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green lives.

The first chance will be one that makes for an uncomfortable sleep.

With Australia 2-78 and Labuschagne 28, the right-hander skipped down the wicket and was beaten on the outside edge by Mendis.

The keeper fumbled the chance and Labuschagne survived.

Thirty overs later the first-drop eventually departed but had brought up his first century on foreign soil by that point while Australia had moved past 200.

His missed chance on Green was not as costly, as the right-hander was trapped in front for four attempting a sweep from Jayasuriya.

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