Tue, Aug 2, 9:37am by Staff Writer
It was a case of deja vu for the world’s number one ranked Test team late on Saturday afternoon in Kandy when the Aussies came up short once again on Asian soil. The defeat extended the stretch to nine games without a win on the continent and in another predictable outcome; it was spin that brought them undone once again with veteran Rangana Herath finishing with match figures of 9/103.
The Aussies head into the second Test on Thursday as favourites with Sportsbet at $2 but are nowhere near as short as they were before the first Test. The draw is at $3.25 and the home side at $3.85 which is much shorter than the $6.50 they were prior to the opener.
The bad news doesn’t end there for the visitors with left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe injuring his hamstring during the second innings after picking up three wickets in the first dig. 29-year old Victorian Jon Holland has been flown over to replace him and is expected to be named in what will be his Test debut.
Onto the victors and the true magnitude of the effort from the tiny island nation can be summed up by the overall record in this fixture, the 106-run win was only the second time in their history that they’ve beaten the Aussies. The win looked out of the question when the Aussies trailed by only 51 runs with eight wickets in hand at stumps on day one after the home side were bundled out for only 117.
It was the youngster Kusal Mendis who turned the game on the third day with a magnificent century in what turned out to be, statistically at least, the greatest come-from-behind win in their history. Never before had they won a Test having been dismissed for less than 150 in the first innings.
It’s been 1,792 days since Australia last saluted on Asian soil when Michael Clarke’s side defeated Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Australia has gone to great lengths to try and rectify their horrific form on the continent including installing specifically designed spin pitches at the National Cricket Centre. They even arrived a fortnight before the first Test and played two warm-up games to try and acclimatise but even all that couldn’t help them on Saturday.
Having said all of that, I’m sticking with the Aussies to bounce back in this one. Australian selector Rod Marsh had some harsh words for the Australian team in the fallout of the defeat and I’m backing them to respond in the best possible fashion here and even up the series. To me it seemed as if they were playing too defensively. I’d like to see them attack the bowling more and show why they are the number one team in the world.
BEST BET: Australia to win $2
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