Australia thrash Sri Lanka in Galle Test

Scott BaileyAAP
Teammates congratulate Nathan Lyon as the spinner helped rip through Sri Lanka in the first Test.
Camera IconTeammates congratulate Nathan Lyon as the spinner helped rip through Sri Lanka in the first Test. Credit: AP

Nathan Lyon and Travis Head have spun Australia to their fastest Test victory in 20 years, thrashing Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the series opener in Galle.

On a dominant day for Australia, Lyon and Head took four wickets each as the tourists required just 22.5 overs to roll through Sri Lanka for 113 in their second innings.

David Warner then knocked off the fourth-innings target of five in four balls, as Australia began celebrating before lunch on day three.

The win came in 153.2 overs for the Test match, Australia's fastest since they demolished Pakistan in Sharjah in 2002 and their sixth quickest of all time.

So rapidly did it happen, captain Pat Cummins didn't even bowl in the second innings, with spinners taking all 10 scalps.

"It's happened a lot quicker than we thought," Cummins said.

"When you're bowling you want things to happen quickly like that, as opposed to in the past we've been the batting side (in that situation).

"You've got to be on the front foot here.

"You've got to be scoring runs, ticking over the scoring rate because if you're not moving anywhere here you're pretty vulnerable."

That approach was key in Australia's domination, showing a greater willingness to play with out-of-the-box thinking than in the past on the sub-continent.

Australia were comprehensively beaten when they last visited Galle in 2016, spun out for 106 and 183 as Rangana Herath claimed a hat-trick.

But the tourists look a side with far more intent this time, finding a way to unsettle an inexperienced Sri Lankan attack and run through their bats.

With the bat that was best exemplified by the way Usman Khawaja and Cameron Green reverse-swept their way to 71 and 77 respectively, as Australia's first-innings score of 321 came at a run-rate of 4.53.

All that, on a wicket both Head and Khawaja labelled the hardest they have had to bat on.

With the ball it is also clear Lyon has arrived with more weapons in his armoury than in Australia's 3-0 defeat in 2016.

Three of Lyon's wickets came from miscued sweep shots on Friday and another from a reverse sweep, as his 4-31 went with his 5-90 in the first innings.

Included in that rout was Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne (23), No.3 Kusal Mendis, dangerman Niroshan Dickwella and bowling allrounder Ramesh Mendis.

Lyon's scalps took him into the top 10 all-time wicket takers, overtaking greats Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee in the space of a few overs.

"I wouldn't change him for anyone," Cummins said.

"He was unplayable for left or right-handers.

"Sometimes out here, bounce of spinners is spoken about as something that's not desirable.

"But he showed here with that bounce he was unplayable."

Mitchell Swepson also bagged two up top, helping his cause to keep his spot for the second Test starting Saturday with Jon Holland and Ashton Agar both pushing to be fit.

And then it was Head's time to shine, taking 4-10 in a 2.5-over spell that summed up Sri Lanka's day and the shortest innings in their history.

His first wicket came when he spun a ball back a long way through Dinesh Chandimal's bat and pad.

But the most comical was that of Dhananjaya de Silva, who padded up to a delivery on middle stump and was initially given not out before a review.

Australia go up 1-0 in the two-Test series with the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy already retained.

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