Khawaja’s skills were fully tested by the extremes of spin and bounce on offer for Sri Lanka’s spinners Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva, including one sequence where he was beaten by a sharp off-break on the front foot, had to dig deep to keep a sliding delivery off the stumps next ball, then recoiled as a ball of similar line jumped dramatically out of the surface.
This is Khawaja’s third Test series visit to Sri Lanka after 2011 and 2016, but the first time he has scored more than 26 runs in an innings here.
When Carey (45) arrived, he was instantly into stride against the spinners, sweeping and reversing with precision, and forcing Sri Lanka’s captain Dimuth Karanaratne to revert to pace bowling. In these conditions, Asitha Fernando’s seamers were food and drink to Carey and Green, who helped themselves to 13 runs in two overs.
Carey’s game is strongly geared towards scoring through cover, midwicket and square of the stumps, and Karunaratne left some obliging gaps for him to exploit. The 50 stand was raised in fewer than nine overs, and in the last over of the session, Fernando was reduced to a short-ball attack.
This was quite a contrast to Head’s exit, offering a return catch from a leading edge when attempting to play a spinning half volley through the leg side.
It had been a pained innings after he was preferred to Glenn Maxwell for the opening game of the Test series. Had Head leaned forward, he would have been dealing with a full toss.
It had been an exceptional effort by all concerned to simply get play started. Winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour lashed the stadium on Thursday morning, causing the collapse of the stand about an hour before the scheduled start of play.
The extreme conditions also wreaked havoc on the vast gantry at the fort end of the ground, stripping it of about a third of the sightscreen and knocking over broadcast and ball-tracking cameras carefully calibrated to cover the game and be used by the umpires for decisions.
After waiting in the dressing room for most of the morning, Australia’s players briefly decamped to the team bus before returning to prepare for a 1.45pm start. The collapsed stand was eventually cleared, and play will start half an hour early for the remainder of the match.
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