In a "unplayable" off-spin masterclass, Head becomes "prime Murali."

July 1, 2022By fanu benks

Ron Burgundy, the legendary actor, once said… Well, that quickly got out of hand.

Given that a full session was wasted on Thursday in Galle due to the severe weather, Australia's decisive ten-wicket victory and one-nil lead in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka were completed by Australia in just one session on the third day.
The success of part-time offspinner Travis Head, who got his first wickets in Test cricket and concluded with figures of 4 for 10 off just 2.5 overs, clearly demonstrated the dominance of spin.

The inept batting of Sri Lanka was exposed when Australia's spinners claimed all ten wickets in only 22.5 overs, with Mitchell Swepson taking the other six after Nathan Lyon added four more wickets to his five-wicket haul from the first innings.
Pat Cummins didn't bother to come on to bowl as he masterfully managed his bowlers and fielders, later admitting that he hadn't anticipated the game to end so swiftly.

As soon as Asitha Fernando cleaned out Australia's tail, which only added eight runs to the total from the previous day, Sri Lanka appeared to be attempting to mimic the tourists' proactive style to batting.
Australia already had a comfortable 101-run lead in the first innings, but the opening Sri Lankan combination of Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka added more than a quarter of those runs in the first four overs.

Mitchell Starc gave up 17 runs in his first over, and after his second, he was removed from the game to make room for a tweakers' show that sent the crowd's heads spinning as fast as the ball in Lyon, Swepson, and Head's hands.
However, from the moment Lyon made the first breakthrough, bowling around the wicket to Karunaratne, who misjudged and mishandled a faint bottom edge as he swept over the top of the ball for Alex Carey to claim a sharp catch, Sri Lanka's problems snowballed into a procession of batters making their way between the dressing room and the crease.

The players who were most accustomed to such circumstances found that the traditional wisdom of sweeping in them was useless.
Nissanka and Kusal Mendis were both outplaying the shot; Swepson lbw-trapped Nissanka and top-edged Mendis to a deep-to-slightly-square leg. The second wicket was a testament to Pat Cummins' sharp thinking since he brought Swepson in many meters from the deep square boundary, placing him in an ideal position to grab the catch.

https://youtu.be/iVpmXNQMfdQ

The COVID-19 replacement for Angelo Matthews, Oshawa Fernando, paid the price for trying to drive over this minefield when he edged Swepson to Steve Smith at first slip. But if sweeping was dangerous, driving on this minefield was insane.
On a day when every move was rewarded, Cummins brought Head on to bowl the 19th over. The part-timer struck with his first pitch, clean bowling Dinesh Chandimal (13), with a ripping delivery that pitched outside off and jagged back in to smash middle and leg. Chandimal was left staring at the stumps in shock.

Three more balls later, Head claimed another victim, but it's questionable whether Dhanajaya de Silva or standing umpire Kumar Dharmasena exhibited worse judgment
When the ball struck Dhananjaya's back pad, he clumsily turned his body to the leg side and was so far in his crease that an obvious lbw judgment looked unnecessary.
Dharmasena continued to hold his finger still, but the review proved conclusive and the decision was reversed.

While Baz-ball is popular in England, there was a hint of Gaz-ball in Galle as Lyon grabbed the wickets of Niroshan Dickwella and Ramesh Mendis, who both top-edged to strategically placed fielders while sweeping and reverse-sweeping, respectively.

Only Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, and Ravichandran Ashwin have taken more Test wickets than Mendis, propelling Lyon to tenth place overall on the record.
However, Head's outrageous turn finally put an end to Sri Lanka's feeble resistance, as he neatly bowled Jeffrey Vandersay and banged Lasith Embuldeniya on the front pad to leave the home team all out for 113.

David Warner scored a boundary and a six off of only three balls to give Australia the five runs they needed to win and give them confidence going into the second Test.

Pat Cummins expressed his pride in the team following the victory. "These are pretty unfamiliar playing conditions for us over here, and I think everyone played superbly.
"We really knew what we were doing and how we were going to approach it. Speaking about it is one thing, but I felt our batters in particular displayed incredible daring and proactivity.

While Australia was excellent with the ball in hand, Cameron Green won Player of the Match for his composed half-century because the third day's bowling was not necessary.

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