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First Test day two talking points, scores, result, reaction, highlights, video, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja

The second day of the first Test in Sri Lanka could well be the day where the wicket-keeper debate ends in Australia.

Alex Carey didn’t register his maiden century. He didn’t even bury Sri Lanka into the ground. But what he did do was change the momentum of the game and help put Australia on top.

In much the same way Adam Gilchrist could change the course of a game in a session, Carey (45 off 47) went some way in putting Australia on course for a first Test victory.

Together with Cameron Green (77), the middle order pair put on a sixth-wicket partnership of 84. But more than the runs was the pace that they scored at.

Their 50-run stand came off as many deliveries and no Australian partnership had been scored at a quicker rate.

Australia will take a lead of 101 runs into the third day, with skipper Pat Cummins unbeaten on 26 and Nathan Lyon on eight.

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SL v Aus First Test Day 2 Highlights | 06:39

Cummins could yet take the game further away from Sri Lanka, having already belted three sixes in his 26-ball stay.

He might need to, too.

On a pitch that has turned from the opening session, Australia will not want to chase more than 150 on the Galle deck.

It means that some more lower order pinch hitting could well be just the tonic to continue Australia’s unbeaten run in the Test game, which stands at eight matches.

Here are our talking points from day two, which was delayed by a storm and ended because of fading light despite Sri Lanka’s spinners operating.

Australia's Alex Carey turned the momentum of the game as Sri Lanka threatened to come back. Photo: AFP
Australia’s Alex Carey turned the momentum of the game as Sri Lanka threatened to come back. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

CAREY’S A KEEPER

A day after a strong day behind the stumps, Carey further cemented his name in the Australian XI.

The wicket-keeper batter arrived in Sri Lanka still under the microscope.

For the second straight tour Josh Inglis had been included in the squad, but save for an injury it’s likely he will only be required for taking the gatorade out to the middle.

It’s often been said the hardest job for a wicket-keeper is performing in the sub-continent and Carey did so on day one.

David Warner helped Carey, but no keeper is faultless when the ball turns square from the outset.

Nonetheless, Carey kept low, his hands were soft and the ball, for the best part, was taken cleanly.

But it was the bat that he showed his growing confidence.

At 5-157, Carey walked to the crease at a difficult time.

Usman Khawaja had finally been removed but it came as the middle order struggled.

Another wicket would have left Australia on the fact foot and Sri Lanka in control.

Yet, Carey attacked.

He didn’t take to the bowlers down the ground, but played a very non-Australian innings by sweeping and manipulating the field.

He raced out of the blocks and he took his partner Green with him.

In the end Carey departed for 45, but his runs came at nearly a run-a-ball, as Dinesh Chanidmal took a spectacular catch running backwards off Ramesh Mendis.

Carey’s wagon wheel showed what Sri Lanka got wrong and how they might attack going forward.

The left-hander didn’t score one run down the ground and instead operated with a man out in the deep.

Cameron Green pulls during his half-century. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ultimately the decision to bring Chandimal in paid off, as Carey attempted to his Mendis over the top but only managed to get a thick outside edge.

Nonetheless, Carey’s innings was one of his most important.

‘SPECIAL GREEN’ JUST GETTING STARTED

He might bowl 140k/ph, but Cameron Green was not needed with the ball in the first innings.

Instead, Green, who arrived at the crease with Australia in a precarious position at 4-100, starred with the bat.

Some Australians take years to find their way in the sub-continent.

Carey? Well he’s taken all of about five minutes as he built on his work in Pakistan, where he averaged 51.66, and looked remarkably comfortable on the spinning wickets for a big man who grew up on the hard pitches in Western Australia.

The 23-year-old struck 77 off 109, as he top scored for the tourists.

Khawaja & Green fall short of their tons | 01:31

Green was precise with his footwork and put the loose ball away with great force before eventually being trapped in front.

At that point, though, he had helped put Australia in a commanding position.

Greg Chappell dubbed him the best since Ricky Ponting before his first Test and that comment is looking more and more correct by the innings.

He was described as a “crazy talent” and that’s putting it mildly.

Brad Haddin, who was Australia’s wicket-keeper during the successful series, paid tribute to Green’s game-plan and willingness to put the pressure back on Sri Lanka’s spinners rather than be a sitting duck.

“Great knock from Cameron Green,” Haddin said in commentary after the all-rounder registered his fifth half-century.

“He’s just getting better and better with every innings. This one will be very special. It’s his fifth half-century, but it’s the way he’s gone about his work today.

“Under pressure, he’s taken the attack back to the Sri Lankan bowlers.

“We’re witnessing something special here with Cameron Green. Every Test innings he’s getting better and better. He understands what it takes to build an innings. It’s a very, very classy knock from Cameron Green.

“What I’ve liked about it as well is that it’s been planned. He’s used his feet really well, he’s had a plan to get off strike and put the pressure back on the Sri Lankan spinners and what that shows in someone so young is that they’re watching the game closely, they’ve learnt from the Pakistan series and he’s got a really clear game-plan on the way he wants to do things.”

Lyon and Swepson combine for 8 wickets | 03:32

KHAWAJA THE MAN FOR INDIA, BUT HOW ABOUT ENGLAND?

It’s hard to remember an Australian Test XI without Usman Khawaja now.

Ironically, it was only in December 2021 that the team did indeed not feature Khawaja, who had been banished from the side for almost two-and-a-half years.

Khawaja’s rise since then, as a 35-year-old veteran, has been well documented.

Australia’s Usman Khawaja (L) plays off the back foot in Galle on his way to a half-century in the first Test. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

The unbelievable back-to-back tons at the SCG in his first match back. A heartbreaking 97 in Rawalpindi, followed by 200 runs in Karachi, and another 195 in Lahore.

Off that incredible run of form, a scratchy 71 in Galle hardly feels worthy of note – but it’s arguably the most noteworthy knock of them all.

Khawaja’s Test narrative heavily features the shocking start in Asia, where he was exposed on dustbowls and labelled as a weak player of spin.

The criticism was well-placed given he averaged just 14.62 after five Tests on the continent.

As he walked back to the Galle sheds on Thursday disappointed, with a century not entirely out of reach, he did so with an average in Asia of 60.86.

Only Mike Hussey (63.06) has made more than 600 runs in Asia for Australia at a better average than Khawaja.

In Test matches in Asia since 2018, that average improves to a staggering 113.71 for Khawaja.

Usman Khawaja (L)is forced to go after being caught by Pathum Nissanka at Galle International Stadium on June 30, 2022 in Galle, Sri Lanka. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Big runs on docile tracks in Pakistan helped Khawaja’s turnaround earlier this year, while the site of his miracle century in Dubai in 2018 wasn’t the minefield we’ve seen in Galle.

But Khawaja’s ability to sweep, reverse sweep, and be proactive has seen him emerge as not just an improved player of spin, but one of Australia’s finest.

His innings in Galle proved it, even if there were a few nervy moments.

Khawaja rode his luck on day one but looked strong on day two as he made 71 runs and survived 130 balls, while calling on all his new tricks against spin.

For comparison, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head survived 70 balls combined.

Given Khawaja’s age, there has been a feeling among some that he’s a stopgap appointment at the top of the order.

But while he’s performing like this and still finding areas to improve, you have to wonder why he can’t be so much more.

As for what’s next; Khawaja is likely a lock for the tour of India next year given his recent performances in Asia.

For the Ashes in mid-2023, the left-hander will need to show during this home summer that he can also make runs as an opener against the moving new ball.

His runs at the SCG in January came in the middle-order while he struggled on a green seamer in Hobart having been promoted to the top of the order, with scores of six and 11.



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