Australia inflicted a humiliating defeat on Sri Lanka in the second Test, bowling out the tourists in quick time yesterday to win by an innings and 203 runs.
Man of the match Mitchell Johnson followed an unbeaten 92 with two wickets and a run out as Australia won in just 2.5 days and clinched the three-match series with back-to-back wins.
Australia captain Michael Clarke said his side had learned from their 1-0 series loss to South Africa earlier this month.
“It’s a really good step for us as a team, knowing we let a few opportunities against South Africa slide when we were on top, but throughout this Test match we’ve capitalized on the momentum we’ve had. When you get momentum you’ve got to grab it with both hands and run with it, and we’ve done that this Test match,” he said.
After Australia’s first innings ended early in yesterday’s opening session for 460 and a commanding lead of 304, Sri Lanka made a dismal start to their second dig, collapsing to 3-3 in the first two overs.
Sri Lanka only briefly halted the flow of wickets and were bowled out for 103, with the injured Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara not batting and Kumar Sangakkara retiring hurt.
“We played a really bad game of cricket,” Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said.
Faced with a daunting target just to make Australia bat again, Dimuth Karunaratne was run out for one by Johnson off a David Warner relay with the third ball of the second innings. Tillakaratne Dilshan fell for a duck off Johnson’s next ball when he was caught by Ed Cowan at short leg.
Debutant paceman Jackson Bird claimed a wicket in the very next over when Mahela Jayawardene (0) looked to leave the ball, only to watch it deflect onto his stumps and leave Sri Lanka at 3-3.
Thilan Samaraweera added just one run before being trapped LBW by Bird (2-10).
Sangakkara (27), who scored his 10,000th run on Monday, looked to be settling in, but retired shortly after lunch when he took a Johnson delivery on his left index finger.
Jayawardene said scans showed a fracture and that Sangakkara will undergo surgery in Melbourne before missing the next six to eight weeks, including the remainder of the tour.
Angelo Mathews then played a rash shot at a seaming Johnson delivery and dragged the ball onto his stumps for 35, exposing the Sri Lanka tail.
Dhammika Prasad provided some entertainment, hitting sixes off consecutive balls to start Nathan Lyon’s second over, but was caught at cover by Phillip Hughes at cover for 17 off the next delivery.
Shaminda Eranga was out for a duck shortly after to complete Sri Lanka’s capitulation.
“We’ve lost Test matches before, but we played very well in [the first Test at] Hobart, and coming here we had a lot of confidence coming here,” Jayawardene said. “We have to sit down and have a good chat between ourselves and see where we go from here.”
Looking to reassert himself as an all-rounder, Johnson narrowly missed his second Test century when he ran out of batting partners, with Australia unable to build much on the big innings total set up by a 194-run partnership between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson on Thursday.
Johnson, who was left out of the Test side for a year before getting a recall to play South Africa a month ago, finished with figures of 6-79 for the Test after taking four wickets on the first day.
“The time that I’ve had away from the game has been a really good thing for me,” the 31-year-old said.
Resuming on 440-8, Nathan Lyon added just one run before offering an easy catch to substitute fielder Dinesh Chandimal at mid-wicket off Angelo Mathews in the third over of the morning.
Bird failed to get off the mark in his first Test innings and was bowled by Shaminda Eranga, leaving Johnson stranded.
Clarke scored 103 for his 22nd Test century and first at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and earlier became Australia’s highest-ever run scorer in a calendar year.
The Australia captain has 1,595 runs for this year, eclipsing recently retired Ricky Ponting’s previous record of 1,544 in 2005.
Watson, who has a career 18 Test half-centuries, fell short of his third century when he fell for 83.
Glenn Maxwell will replace Watson for the Sydney Test after the all-rounder again strained a calf muscle while bowling on Monday.
Usman Khawaja has been placed on standby for Clarke, who remains troubled by a chronic hamstring injury that had made him doubtful