Sri Lanka 184 for 2 (Kusal Mendis 84*, Karunaratne 86) trail Australia 364 (Smith 145*, Labuschagne 104, Jayasuriya 6-118) by 180 runs
Crowds quickly swelled and marched around the stadium before making their way to the iconic Galle Fort which had been closed to everyone following the forced removal of protesters during the opening Test. By the lunch interval, the protest had relocated outside the gates of the ground and during the afternoon session grew in size and noise.
On the field as the game continued, Sri Lanka turned the tables on Australia in a manner that had appeared unlikely. Taking the lottery out of the contest by producing a more even surface has, so far, worked although they will not want to concede a first-innings lead as batting last is still unlikely to be a comfortable task.
Australia’s early breakthrough came courtesy of a brilliant catch in the gully by Cameron Green who leapt full-stretch to his left to grab Pathum Nissanka’s outside edge off Mitchell Starc. Karunaratne would have been run out on 18 if Starc’s throw from mid-on had hit and, in the final over before tea, was given a life when he toe-ended a full toss back towards Swepson who couldn’t get into position in his follow through.
Barring those moments, though, the stand was largely untroubled with Kusal especially serene. The first boundary of the innings had not come until the 15th over amid early pressure from Australia’s bowlers, but the pair were then quick to latch onto anything loose, of which there were a number of offerings from Swepson’s first spell and a slightly off-colour Nathan Lyon who struggled to consistently find the right length.
There was much more work for the quicks (Green bowled for the first time in series) with Australia searching for the reverse swing which had been such a weapon in Pakistan but there wasn’t much on offer amid two ball changes. Cummins also went for a spell of short-pitched bowling, which would probably not have been Plan A or B for the captain after how the first Test played out.
It was a much-changed scenario from the start of play. Australia had resumed on 298 for 5 and it appeared they were tracking well towards 400 as Steven Smith and Alex Carey extended their partnership to 77. However, after Carey top-edged a reverse sweep to be taken deep on the off side none of the lower order could stay with Smith for a substantial amount of time.
That was soon followed by a superb catch at slip by Kusal to remove Starc, after an outside edge flew very quickly, which gave Jayasuriya his fifth wicket. In the end, Jayasuriya’s debut figures sat behind only fellow left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama’s 6 for 92 against Bangladesh last year.
Smith largely tried to farm the strike with No. 11 Swepson for company but Sri Lanka were able to end things before it became too frustrating. The final wicket went to another debutant, Maheesh Theekshana, who opened his account by removing Swepson lbw when there was one ball of the over to survive, leaving Smith unbeaten on 145.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo