Kandy (Sri Lanka), Sep.9 (ANI): Sri Lanka on Friday staged a fightback in the second Test being played here against Australia, taking the important wicket of Australian captain Michael Clarke before lunch after removing both openers in the first session.
The hosts, who capitulated for 174 on Thursday, entered the Pallekele Stadium on Friday already on the back foot and staring at a series defeat.
However, they have re-established at least a glimmer of hope of holding onto their ranking of fourth in Test cricket by reducing Australia to 3-133 by lunch.
Shaun Marsh, making his first Test debut, was unbeaten on 26 and has been joined by day-one hero, and fellow West Australian, Michael Hussey (15 not out), the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Australia resumed for an extended first session at 0-60 and suffered an early setback when Shane Watson had his off stump displaced while leaving a thunderbolt from Sri Lankan spearhead Suranga Lakmal.
The vice-captain had not added to the 36 he had compiled yesterday afternoon and made a poor decision not to play at the off-cutter, having almost been bowled by an electric Lakmal the ball before. Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan had been knocked over in the very same fashion by Trent Copeland on Thursday.
The disappointing dismissal continues Watson's frustration at failing to convert a plethora of starts into big scores. He has reached at least 30 in 12 of the 16 innings he has played since he last made a Test hundred, against India in Mohali last October.
Watson's opening partner, Phillip Hughes, then set about digging in alongside debutant Marsh but his grafting knock also reached a stumbling block on 36. Hughes had a close shave immediately after the morning drinks break when he edged spinner Suraj Randiv just short of Mahela Jayawardene at slip. The dangerous Randiv, however, had his man in the very same over, luring the 22-year-old left-hander into a mis-hit bunt to silly leg, where he was snaffled up by Tharanga Paranavitana.
Clarke followed, on 13, just before a brief downpour of rain stopped play, edging Chanaka Welegedara to Dilshan at third slip with a loose shot.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis is likely to play no role in this Test series after having scans on a back complaint that ruled him out of the second Test. Mendis had been strongly tipped to be called up in Kandy before the injury flared up.(ANI)