Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson appears back to his best after tearing through the Sri Lankan batting attack as Australia’s strong performance on day one of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG has them now in a strong position to take a commanding lead.
Johnson’s bowling didn’t exactly come cheap, but his 4-63 was instrumental in dismissing the visitors for just 156. Australia trailed the Sri Lankan target by just six runs at stumps. In front of over 67,000 fans, Johnson became just the 14th Australian to reach the 200 Test wicket milestone.
Johnson took six wickets in his Test return against South Africa in Perth earlier this month, but was overlooked for the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart last week. It will be hard for selectors to leave the West Aussie out again; he took six wickets in at home in Perth and was reaching speeds around the 145km/h mark on Wednesday, however he wasn’t alone in the wicket taking department. Peter Siddle was solid again taking 2-30 while Test debutant Jackson Bird also collected 2-32.
Kumar Sangakkara was the lone Sri Lanka to do any real damage with the bat. He scored 58 and achieved a milestone of his own in becoming just the 11th Test player to reach the 10,000 run mark (and just the second Sri Lankan). Johnson eventually claimed Sangakkara with a tempting hook shot that clipped the bat and forced keeper Matthew Wade to take a remarkable catch.
Although the visitors effort with the bat was nothing short of dismal, they did salvage some hope to ensure that the Test is not entirely lost. Australia were, at best, shaky at the crease and even anchors Shane Watson and Michael Clarke, both not out for 13 and 20 respectively, were both dropped before they had hit the double-figure run mark.
Openers David Warner and Ed Cowan combined for a 95-run stand, but along with Phil Hughes, who was run out for 10 in an embarrassing mix-up with Cowan, all left before the day was out, a cause for concern for Australia.
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