Australia's sub-continent attack pays off

Scott BaileyAAP
Usman Khawaja has been part of an aggressive Australian batting display in Galle, Sri Lanka.
Camera IconUsman Khawaja has been part of an aggressive Australian batting display in Galle, Sri Lanka. Credit: AP

If ever Australia needed proof that their defend-with-attack mantra would work on the sub-continent, they found it with their first full day with the bat in Galle.

Australia went to stumps on day two of the first Test at 8-313, in reply to Sri Lanka's 212.

Already their score is higher than any they produced on the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka, where they were spun out by Rangana Herath and beaten 3-0 by the hosts.

The post-mortem of that series identified a belief that Australia's batters had been too conservative, allowing Herath to get into a rhythm with his lengths.

So on Thursday, Australia put pay to that.

In their first red-ball innings of the tour they went at a run-rate of 4.53, on track to be their second highest ever in a completed innings on the sub-continent.

Usman Khawaja (71), Cameron Green (77) and Alex Carey (45) all swept regularly on a big-turning wicket, as Sri Lanka sent down just one maiden over.

"If you try and block on that wicket too often, it's almost goodnight," Khawaja said.

"I don't know if you can see it watching the game, but my god, that wicket is ragging.

"The guys are batting extremely well to get to 300."

Australia's start in Sri Lanka follows their first series win in Asia in 10 years in March, albeit on flatter pitches in Pakistan.

"We've learnt from our mistakes, guys are more trusting of their plans and able to adapt to different situations," Khawaja said.

"The amount of times I got told growing up not to sweep as a youngster, every second coach telling me not to do it.

"But for (Carey) and myself it's a very natural shot.

"Greeny doing it now - the amount of times I've heard people say 'you're a tall bloke, just hit down the ground' - it's just the biggest bullcrap in the world.

"A player has the ability to sweep whether he's six foot seen or five foot five. It's actually more potent when you're tall person."

Khawaja's comments came as Sri Lanka's spin coach Piyal Wijetunge admitted Australia had got their tactics right and that his four slow bowlers had not handled it well.

"When the ball turns the batsman's approach changes too," the former Test spinner said.

"They tend to bat aggressively.. So spinners need to be tactical. There is a bit of an issue.

"I can not tell that every day that these are young spinners. We are getting there.

"England, South Africa and Australia (you used to say) 'they don't play spin well'.

"But now they play spin better than anyone else."

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