Gabba Test: Australia ahead despite Suranga Lakmal’s five
Travis Head's 84 is the highest score by an Australian this summer. © AFP

A cracking dismissal from Pat Cummins off the last ball of two day accentuated Australia‘s dominance over Sri Lanka at the Gabba, putting into the background some superb bowling from Suranga Lakmal who claimed five wickets for the second time in three Tests away from home to help limit the home team’s lead to 179.

Lakmal was a constant threat to Australia’s batsmen, taking four wickets on Friday to end with 5/75 from 27 overs, but losing Dimuth Karunaratne on the stroke of stumps to end the day on 17/1, trailing by 162 runs, took some gloss of the good work the was put in. (SCORECARD: AUSTRALIA vs SRI LANKA, 1st TEST)

Though once again no Australian batsman managed to score a Test century, a solid middle-order effort from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne in what proved the team’s biggest partnership of the summer turned around the innings. From an overnight 72/2 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 144, Australia finished on 323 with new vice-captain Head top-scoring with 82 and Labuschange making 81, his first Test fifty. The debutant Kurtis Patterson appeared assured in his first innings and with the tail helped get the total past 300 until he became Lakmal’s fifth wicket in a new spell.

Earlier, Marcus Harris was out in the first over of the day when he tamely cut Lahiru Kumara to point for 44, and three overs later the nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was out for 1 to a terrific catch at second slip by Kusal Mendis off Lakmal, leaving the hosts at 82/4.

Suranga Lakmal claimed 5/75 at the Gabba.
Suranga Lakmal claimed 5/75 at the Gabba. © AFP

Labuschagne survived a couple very close lbw shouts but kept batting smartly with some crisp drives and flicks. His maiden Test fifty was a solid affair that ended when he advanced to Dananjaya de Silva’s part-time spin and found Lahiru Thirimanne at short mid-on. His stand with Head was worth 166.

Head, already a senior in this inexperienced line-up, drove and cut with precision to reach a career-best 84 peppered with ten fours. This marked the highest individual Test score for Australia in five Tests this summer.  Lakmal claimed him lbw in a new spell, the batsman reviewing in vain, and next ball found the edge off Tim Paine’s bat for Mendis to clutch a stunner at second slip. There was to be no hat-trick for Lakmal, but a fifth was not too far off when he came back and won an lbw shout against Patterson, who made 30 from 82 balls.

Mitchell Starc hit a breezy 26 not out as the innings ended on 323 with Dilruwan Perera getting Jhye Richardson for 1.

Cummins came onto bowl the last over of the day and with his sixth delivery found the edge of Karunaratne’s bat for Paine to hold on.

Stumps: Sri Lanka 144 and 17/1 trail Australia 323 (Head 84, Labuschagne 81, Lakmal 5/75) by 162 runs