Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Australia beats Sri Lanka by 149 runs in first test


Australian bowler Shane Warne at the end of the first test in Darwin, yesterday.


Fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz took seven second-innings wickets yesterday as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 149 runs inside three days of the first cricket test.

Sri Lanka, set a target of 312 for victory at Marrara Oval, could only manage 162 second-innings runs before being bowled out shortly after tea Saturday. Australia had scored 207 and 201 runs in its innings while Sri Lanka opened with just 97, one of the lowest test scores in its history.

Kasprowicz took 7-39 -- his best figures in Australia and the second-best total of his limited test career. Australia has now recorded four straight wins over Sri Lanka after sweeping the March series 3-0 in Sri Lanka.

"Kasprowicz was great today," said acting captain Adam Gilchrist, subbing for Ricky Ponting, who did not play due to a death in his family.

"It just shows you what a great group of fast bowlers we've got to choose from," Gilchrist said.

The only resistance from Sri Lanka came in the form of a 79-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Mahela Jayawardene (44) and Thilan Samaraweera (32). The pair carried the score from 30 to 109.

But Kasprowicz wiped out any chance of a Sri Lankan comeback when he broke the stand by claiming the wicket of Samaraweera in the first over of his second spell.

He then worked his way through Sri Lanka's middle and lower order.

The match marked Glenn McGrath's return to the Australian lineup for the first time in nearly a year following ankle surgery. He took seven wickets in two innings and was named man of the match.

Gilchrist, who top-scored for the match with 80 in Australia's second innings, registered his second victory as Australian captain. Ponting will be back for the second and final test in Cairns starting July 9.

The match aggregate of 667 runs made it one of the lowest-scoring tests in Australia.

Gilchrist said that with 40 wickets falling in 2 1-2 days, Cricket Australia must do something about the state of the Marrara Oval pitch if it wants test cricket to thrive in northern Australia.

"I don't think the wicket was quite up to test standard," Gilchrist said.

"It's pretty obvious when a test finishes like that with the quality of batsmen around in both teams it's not quite up to standard."

Marrara Oval has now hosted two tests which both rank among the 25 lowest-scoring tests in Australia. A total of 682 runs were scored in the inaugural test in Darwin between Australia and Bangladesh last year.

Sri Lanka coach John Dyson also criticized the pitch.

"Australia don't get bowled out for 200 twice very often at all," Dyson said.

``When that happens it should tell you something about the wicket,'' he added. "When the test match finishes in three days that should also tell you something about the wicket. A good game of test cricket you would expect to go into the fifth day."

Sri Lanka was playing without Muttiah Muralitharan, the world record holder for test wickets, who decided not to come to Australia for personal reasons.

Captain Marvan Atapattu said veteran bowler Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga, making his test debut, were the stars for Sri Lanka, taking seven and six wickets respectively for the match.

"He has much to carry without Murali, but he came up to our expectations," Atapattu said of Vaas.

Malinga's total included four second-inning Australian wickets.

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