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23 May 2024

Head, Labuschagne bat Australia into strong position against Sri Lanka

Photo: AFP


Travis Head led the way as Australia built an imposing 105-run lead over Sri Lanka on the second day of the day-night Test at the Gabba on Friday.

Head was unbeaten on 71 with Test debutant Kurtis Patterson yet to score and Australia going to dinner at 249 for five.

Head, named one of Australia's new vice-captains earlier this week, was attempting to score his maiden Test century after passing his previous highest Test score of 72 twice against Pakistan and India last year.

Head had some luck along the way and was dropped on 29 on the third ball after tea when wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella dived late and put down the one-gloved chance off Suranga Lakmal.

Marnus Labuschagne was out shortly before dinner with a maiden Test century beckoning on 81.

His patient 150-ball knock ended when he skipped down the wicket to lift a drive only to find the bottom of his bat and was taken at short mid-on by Lahiru Thirimanne off Dhananjaya de Silva.

Yet again an Australian batsman failed to reach three figures this season and Labuschagne had the dubious distinction of scoring Australia's highest Test score against India and Sri Lanka this summer.

Head and Labuschagne put on 166 runs for the fifth wicket to put Australia in command after losing two wickets in the opening session chasing Sri Lanka's modest 144.

Marcus Harris was out in the first over of the day, spooning a cut shot to Thirimanne at point off Lahiru Kumara for 44 after adding just four to his overnight score.

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon was out three overs later for one, caught at second slip by Kusal Mendis off Lakmal, leaving the Australians at 82 for four in the 29th over.

The Sri Lankans struggled to come to terms with the bouncy Gabba wicket after winning the toss on Thursday's opening day with only Dickwella showing any resistance hitting 64 from 78 balls.

Test debutant Jhye Richardson, who only came into the side after Josh Hazlewood was ruled out with injury, had figures of 3-26 to lead an impressive Australian display with the ball.

Pat Cummins chimed in to clean up the tail, finishing with 4-39.

The Brisbane Test is the first of a two-match series against Sri Lanka.