Two brain fades and a guilty shot have undone Australia’s dominance of the first day of the second Test.
The home team reached 3-150 at stumps to be within a stroke of Sri Lanka’s paltry 156 but their position should have been significantly stronger after a rollicking opening stand.
Opener David Warner blazed another flamboyant half-century – the landmark being reached in just 34 balls – but he fell in amateurish fashion for 62 when a century in the session was within his grasp.
He was caught at deep midwicket pulling Angelo Mathews from the first ball the fieldsman had been placed in the position for just that shot.
Then Phil Hughes was run out for 10 after he made the fatal error of standing his ground to watch the ball rather than respond to his partner Ed Cowan’s call for a single.
By the time Hughes got under way, Tillekeratne Dilshan had gathered the ball and returned it to stand-in wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara who ran out the batsman comfortably.
Hughes was involved when Warner was run out in similar fashion in Hobart last week.
Cowan appeared to be affected by the mix-up and soon played a poor cut shot at Dhammika Prasad which provided an easy catch for Mahela Jayawardena at slip.
Michael Clarke and Shane Watson left nothing to chance in the final hour and focused on watchful defence after their team had dominated most of the day.
But both batsmen survived chances at five, with Dilshan putting down Clarke’s sharp clip to short mid-on while Sangakkara grassed a simple diving edge from Watson an over or two later.
Watched by 67,138 spectators, Sri Lanka were earlier cut down in under two sessions.
The visitors also received bad news soon after tea when x-rays revealed wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardena had suffered a hairline fracture of his right thumb.
The gloveman was injured when he was struck by a nasty lifter from Mitch Johnson and his ability to take part in the rest of the match will not be known until tomorrow.
The highlight for Sri Lanka was Sangakkara’s feat in passing 10,000 Test runs, but that was overshadowed by an inept batting performance from his team-mates that saw them dismissed before tea.
Johnson was the pick of the bowlers with 4-63, including a withering spell of fast, hostile and unrelenting pace that shattered Sri Lanka’s middle order.
The visitors have never won a Test in Australia and appear unlikely to break their duck at the MCG after succumbing to the bounce of the drop-in pitch.
Johnson now has 200 Test wickets and reached the landmark with a remarkable catch from wicket-keeper Matthew Wade, who ran nearly to the boundary before diving to collect a top-edge from Sangakkara.
The classy left-hander finished with 58 but the tail failed to add substance as Nathan Lyon picked up two cheap wickets.
Debutant Jackson Bird, who removed opener Dimuth Karunaratne for just five, claimed a second wicket in an impressive display but left-armer Mitchell Starc may have watched in bemusement as his colleagues took just 43.4 overs to dismiss Sri Lanka.
No one bowled more than Johnson’s 14 overs as wickets fell regularly after lunch.
Bird started the rot three balls after the break when Thilan Samaraweera played a misconceived pull, while Johnson was soon on a hat-trick after ugly lifters claimed Prasad Jayawardene and Prasad in consecutive deliveries.
It may have come as little surprise that a no ball from the hat-trick ball meant Johnson had no prospect of completing the landmark.
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