Australia crashed to an innings and 39-run defeat against Sri Lanka in Galle on Monday, spun out in 41 overs on day four of the final Test to leave the series drawn at 1-1.
On a dismal day for the tourists, they conceded a 190-run first-innings lead as Dinesh Chandimal’s unbeaten 206 powered Sri Lanka to a record total of 554. That left Australia fighting to hold on for a draw, but their innings lasted less than four hours as they were bowled out for 151.
Prabath Jayasuriya claimed six for 59 as Australia’s difficulties with left-arm spin were again exposed. He became the fifth bowler to take 12 wickets on his Test debut. Sri Lanka’s win came a week after they lost the first Test in a little over two days and had three players ruled out with Covid-19.
For all the steps Australia had appeared to make in that first Test win and March’s victory in Pakistan, this was a return to darker times. They had collapses of four for 25 and three for five, including the dismissals of Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith in the space of four balls to Jayasuriya. Big question now loom for February’s four-Test tour of India.
Travis Head was caught on the crease as a delivery spun past his bat and took the top of off stump for the second time in the Test. The left-hander’s scores on this tour now read six, 12 and five and with a career average of 21.3 in Asia, it is questionable if he can be taken to India. David Warner is also emerging as a point of concern after he was the first to fall lbw for 24, with his last international century in January 2020.
Marnus Labuschagne (32) offered the best resistance after his first-innings century, while Cameron Green and Alex Carey also soaked up some time. But ultimately, it was nowhere near enough.
Australia’s bowlers were also unable to build the same pressure as the hosts on a far better batting wicket than in the first Test. Mitchell Starc was the one major exception with four for 89, while Mitchell Swepson showed signs of improvement in his three for 103.
Nathan Lyon was made to toil hard with two for 194, sending down the most overs of his career (64) and was hindered by Australia’s poor use of reviews and missed chances. Carey missed two stumpings off his bowling, including adifficult one with Chandimal on 10.
The real turning point of the match was when Chandimal edged behind off Starc on 30 during day three, with Australia out of reviews and unable to overturn the on-field call of not out.