Sport Cricket Finally! Australia’s centurions lead a run feast in Canberra
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Finally! Australia’s centurions lead a run feast in Canberra

Head Burns Cricket
Travis Head and Joe Burns celebrate at Manuka Oval. Photos;Getty
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2nd Test, Day 1, Manuka Oval Canberra, Third session

First Innings Australia – 4/384

Burns – 171   Patterson – 25

Australia’s century drought has broken a t last, with Joe Burns and Travis Head feasting on some tepid Sri Lankan bowling on day one of the second Test, Canberra historic first.

Australia finished the day at 4/384 with Burns unbeaten on 171 and Kurtis Patterson to resume on 25.

Burns registered the first Australia triple-figure score of the summer and the fourth ton of his Test career in the middle session. His knock also chalked up the Queenslander’s highest Test score, which he looks set to build on when play resumes.

After the batting doldrums that have engulfed the Australians since the disastrous tour of South Africa, Tim Paine’s team will be looking to post its first total in excess of 400 runs since compiling 649 against England at the SCG in January of 2018.

Travis Head notched up his maiden Test century in his eighth Test match as his partnership with Burns eclipsed the previous record  (308 runs) for any Australian batting partnership against Sri Lanka.

Head (161) was finally removed when trapped in front LBW by Vishwa Fernando.

The South Australian was emotional after the day’s play, reflecting on achieving the milestone while also shedding a tear when speaking to SEN Radio and revealing his century was dedicated to some special people close to his heart.

“A few,” he said, choking up. “(Phillip) Hughesy as well. I’m a little bit emotional to be honest,”

There was also satisfaction in the manner in which he and Burns were able to respond to the innings’ early setbacks.

“Obviously, to bat with Burnsy and put us in a great position – and for all the work I’ve done over the last 12 to 18 months – it’s nice to get a little reward,” Head said.

Burns was in an aggressive mood as he pummelled 17 boundaries on the way to his own century. It was Burns fourth Test century and his first since his 170 against New Zealand in Christchurch in February 2016.

Burns’ innings ended a depressing and extraordinary run of 111 consecutive, individual Australian Test innings without a century – an ignominious record that has not been seen in Australian Test cricket in more than 100 years.

Initially, Burns and Head had to mount a salvage mission after the Australian top order flopped in spectacular style.

The pair put on 75 runs from 104 deliveries to stem the bleeding after three quickly surrendered, lifting Australia from his dismal start to a more respectable 3-103 at lunch.

Shortly after the break, both batsmen registered half-centuries as their partnership ticked over 150, restoring some respectability to the Australian scorecard.

Earlier, Australia found itself reeling at 3-28 after the Sri Lankan pace attack, which had claimed just 14 test wickets prior to the start of play, took apart the Australian top order with ease.

Marcus Harris fell victim to reckless hubris, driving extravagantly at a  Fernando delivery in the paceman’s second over and being caught at point by Dimuth Karunaratne. That first Australian wicket fell with just 11 on the board.

Usman Khawaja’s miserable season rolled on as well. Flailing needlessly at a Fernando outswinger, he edged to second slip where  Kusal Mendis made the catch.

Kahwaja’s stay at the crease lasted just three deliveries and reinforced the misery of his latest outings, which have produced just 209 from 11 innings.

With just one more Test innings on offer to Australia’s senior batsman this summer, his place in a team with an Ashes tour looming must be in serious peril.

Given the dearth of available experience and talent at Shield level, it’s a confluence of circumstance that leaves an already rickety Australian batting line-up in perilous shape.

Next to go was Marnus Labuschagne who was unable to deal with a gentle out swinger from Karunarartne and was caught behind for 11.

Burns led the counter attack as he began to find the boundary rope regularly with a series of punishing cut shots.

The Queenslander should have been back in the sheds before though lunch though. He aimed a lazy late cut at a Dilruwan Perera delivery on 34 and was relieved to see a straightforward catch put down by Dhananjaya de Sliva at first slip.

Sri Lanka’s fielding was poor, with numerous catches dropped – including a chance offered by Kurtis Patterson when the young Australian was yet to get off the mark.

The early batting collapse came after Australian captain Tim Paine won a rare toss, sending his batsmen in on an unchanged line-up for the second time this summer on Friday morning.

Even that small victory was qualified, however, as Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal latersaid he would have opted to bowl anyway.

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