Test Evenly Poised
Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh managed unbeaten half centuries as Australia finished on 1/141 in reply to Sri Lanka 357 to leave the 3rd Test Match in Colombo on an even keel. Dinesh Chandimal proved the star of Day 2 in Colombo, advancing from his 64 not out overnight to reach a memorable 132 from 356 balls after an amazing 9 hours at the crease. Chandimal's 7th test century is one he will long cherish as it came about through graft rather then glitz. Often a stroke maker known for his aggressive approach, Chandimal dug in for the long haul as he nudged and prodded the Australia's in to the ground. Once again the Sri Lankan lower order countered impressively with Purera taking the long handle while Ragana Herath bought out his broom stick and swept to his hearts content. Once again it was Mitchell Starc who was Australia's most effective weapon picking up another 5 wicket haul. Starc has always been known for his impact and strike power however in 25 overs her he conceded just 63 runs which shows he is now becoming the complete fast bowler. Australia will be eyeing a first innings lead as they go in search of a confidence boosting win.
Smith and Marsh find Balance in Attack and Defence
Finally Australia might have found a few answers to their spinning woes on the sub continent. After having spent 5 sessions in the field the Australia's might have picked up a trick or two from De Silva's and Chandimal's resistance. In Shaun Marsh Opening the batting the and captain Steve Smith at 3, Australia found 2 batsman that played with patience and confidence throughout the evening session. After the earlier loss of a frenetic David Warner out bizarrely cutting while advancing Sri Lanka sensed another rout. However Smith and Marsh put together Australia's best partnership of the series as they restored some pride and tactical nous to Australia's batting performance. Most notable was the calm approach of Marsh, who has virtually booked his ticket to India and perhaps the home summer with an innings of calmness and class. Whilst Marsh used his feet and looked to be positive, he also defended with confidence and remained discipline. He played with and against the spin with a clear mind, he didn't need to invent shots, or puff out his chest by attacking everything, he just found a zone which said he wanted to bat for long periods. Smith, whilst a little more unorthodox and daring was equally effective coming in up the order. Smith is undoubtably the countries best player of spin bowling, and with India likely to hit Australia with spin right from the get go, as the hosts did here, Smith is undoubtably the best option at number 3. Both players have a golden opportunity here to bring up centuries on a pitch that whilst turning is holding together a little more then Kandy and Galle.
Holland and Lyon Learning on the Run.
Both Nathon Lyon and John Holland were made to toil in the Colombo heat on Day 2. While they could muster just 4 wickets between them in 87 overs of graft their were positives to take from their displays. Lyon knocked up 50 overs claiming the respectable figures of 3/110. Holland could only manage 1/69 from his 37 overs however was unlucky to have 2 relatively simple chances spurned. Holland found a more consistent length then on his debut a week ago and bowled with decent variation and control. Lyon bowled appreciably quicker here in Colombo as he continues to learn his craft on the sub continent. It was Lyon's 9th test match in Asia, which is more then every single member of the Australian 11, but still not enough games to consider himself vastly experienced in the conditions. Lyon had been going at 4 an over in parts of the first 2 test matches and was much more miserly here. It is vitally important that spinners can dictate terms, and build pressure in Asia as the temperatures and conditions often mean fast bowling is used for impact rather then a steady diet of it. Australia will surely be taking more then 2 first line spinners to India. The likes of Adam Zampa and Fawed Ahmed will be watched closely by selectors during the Sheffield Shield season. While Lyon is a certainty to go to India as Australia's number 1 spinner the deputy role remains up for grabs.