GALLE: Sri Lanka lost one wicket before they survived an inspired spell of bowling from Australian quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins on day two of the second Test on Saturday.
The hosts crawled to 65 for one at tea in response to Australia’s 364 in the first innings in Galle, but few spectators were watching from the stands, after a fresh outbreak of political unrest in the country.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, on 35, and Kusal Mendis, on 23, were batting at the break, with Sri Lanka still trailing by 299 runs.
Sri Lanka were dealt an early blow when Mitchell Starc’s pace bowling got Pathum Nissanka to edge the ball to gully, where Cameron Green took a good catch.
Cummins kept the batsmen on the back foot in his eight overs, bowling four maidens and giving away just 11 runs.
Nathan Lyon also kept a check on scoring before Karunaratne got two boundaries off the spinner in one over to ease some pressure.
Debutant spinner Prabath Jayasuriya took six wickets to help bowl out Australia in the first session of play after the tourists resumed on 298-5.
Steve Smith remained unbeaten on 145 after running out of partners on Saturday morning, having ended an 18-month century drought on Friday.
Jayasuriya, who took three wickets on the opening day, set a trap for overnight batsman Alex Carey, who miscued a reverse sweep to be caught at backward point for 28.
The left-arm spinner soon got Starc out for one to become the seventh Sri Lankan bowler to take five wickets in an innings on Test debut.
Jayasuriya was one of the three Sri Lankan players, along with Maheesh Theekshana and Kamindu Mendis, to be awarded a first Test cap following a Covid outbreak sidelining several members of the squad.
There were barely any spectators at Galle for the second day’s play, with the host country embroiled in public unrest arising from its painful economic crisis.
The session began with hundreds of protesters looking down on the Galle fort to demand the resignation of Sri Lanka’s president – who fled his home on Saturday shortly before an angry crowd stormed his residence.
Australia lead the two-match series 1-0 after a crushing opening win inside three days during last week’s first Test.