Wet weather beats Aussies to the punch


Always in a race against the wet weather, Australia were ultimately thwarted as the second Test in Pallekele ended in a draw.

Always in a race against the wet weather, Australia were ultimately thwarted as the second Test in Pallekele ended in a draw.

Headed into day five with the new ball in hand and on the hunt for eight more wickets, the tourists were always threatening as they methodically worked through Sri Lanka's middle order. Halfway through the afternoon session, though, Mum Nature and her sodden mood had the final say.

Brad Haddin spoke overnight of how the Aussies would have to strike with the new ball in order to force a win and with the old guard of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene standing firm, the job was not going to be easy.

Ryan Harris, however, produced a delivery to counter the veteran duo's resistance and the nominal seam movement on offer. The right-armer, who later left the field with a hamstring injury, sent down a peach of a delivery to have Sangakkara out for 69. The bowler pitched one on a penny, enjoyed a bit of away movement off the seam and forced an edge from the left-hander. Michael Clarke at second slip did the rest.

That left Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, who was dropped on zero by Clarke, to a 41-run stand at a rate of almost four to the over. Their positive, collective approach was ended in controversial fashion, though ultimately fairness reigned.

Having edged to the slip cordon, the right-handed Jayawardene watched as Clarke fell to his left to take a one-handed catch just short of the grass. The fielder immediately relayed that he had taken a clean catch, but the Sri Lankan was having none of it and asked for television replays to have the final say. Jayawardene was soon on his way back to the pavilion for 51 – the 39th half-century of his prolific Test career.

Samaraweera, commissioned as the backbone of Sri Lanka's second dig after the fall of Sangakkara and Jayawardene, staved off the visiting attack across a sound stand alongside Prasanna Jayawardene. But a return to the attack from Ryan Harris ended an attacking 31-run stand when the wicketkeeper-batsman's shaky forward-defence resulted in an edge and a catch to Haddin.

Samaraweera fell soon thereafter. He had avoided toying at the line for a substantial period, but eventually took the bait as some reverse swing from Shane Watson had the right-hander on his bike for 43.

Angelo Mathews, in the all too familiar scenario of having to bat with the lower order and farm the strike his way, ensured that he and Suraj Randiv hung around long enough for the rain to once again interfere. It did so for long enough, with the umpires eventually doing the necessary in calling an end to the stalemate at 15:45 local time (10:15 GMT).

Australia, just four wickets shy and a mere 80 runs behind, have every right to feel robbed by the weather. The forecast for Colombo's third and final Test doesn't promise much better, making their triumph in Galle's series opener all the more vital.