GALLE - Sri Lanka fought back hard on day two – bowling out Australia for 364 – before brilliant knocks from Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis helped them to 184/2.

Resuming day two at 298/5, Australia were in a commanding position, with the aim of batting Sri Lanka out of the contest. But the Sri Lankan bowlers, especially debutant Prabath Jayasuriya had other plans. Wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey would be the first one to be dismissed on Day 2, falling for 28, trying to attempt an audacious reverse-sweep against Jayasuriya.

Jayasuriya would clinch his five-wicket haul, with Mitchell Starc edging one to first slip for 1. Skipper Pat Cummins too couldn’t last long, with Kasun Rajitha trapping him lbw for 5. Jayasuriya’s debut Test would become all the memorable, as he got his sixth by scalping Lyon for 5.

Sri Lanka’s valiant fightback would be complete when Mitchell Swepson fell for 3 against MaheeshTheekshana, with Australia being bowled out for 364. Steve Smith would be left stranded at the other end, remaining unbeaten on 145.

Pathum Nissanka’s struggles against pace continued as he was dismissed by Mitchell Starc on 6, going for a flashy poke. That would be the only joy that the Australian bowlers would enjoy for a substantial period of time.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis embarked on a brilliant stand, with the Australian bowlers looking largely hapless against the patient approach of the pair. Both the players would bring up their half-centuries, as the Australians grew desperate to break the stand. With the day approaching its final phase and the total crossing 160, the visitors were now in desperate need of a breakthrough.

The 152-run stand between Karunaratne and Kusal was finally broken by Mitchell Swepson. The Sri Lankan captain was beaten for pace and trapped plumb in front of the stump by the leg-spinner. Karunaratne reviewed the call but to no avail, walking back for a well-made 86.

The wicket gave Australia some relief before the close of play. Kusal (84*) and Angelo Mathews (6*) ensured that the hosts did not lose any more wickets, closing day two at 184/2, trailing Australia by 180 runs. But with the Sri Lankan anchor back in the hut, Australia will back themselves to get some early wickets on day three.

Scores in brief

SRI LANKA 184 for 2 (Kusal Mendis 84*, Karunaratne 86) trail AUSTRALIA 364 (Smith 145*, Labuschagne 104, Jayasuriya 6-118) by 180 runs.