Canberra: Kurtis Patterson smashed his maiden Test hundred Saturday before Australia declared in a commanding position after heaping more misery on a wilting Sri Lankan attack in the second Test at Canberra.
In overcast conditions, the home team resumed on 384 for four and extended their lead to a massive 534 for five when skipper Tim Paine decided to call the batsmen off. It gave his bowlers, led by an under-pressure Mitchell Starc, an hour before tea to try and make inroads into the Sri Lankan top order.
But on a flat Manuka Oval track conducive to batting Dimuth Karunaratne (not out 29) and Lahiru Thirimanne (not out 17) held firm with the tourists weathering some lightning quick deliveries to go to the break at 47 without loss.
The impressive Patterson was not out 114 and Paine on 45 at the declaration with Vishwa Fernando the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with 3-126. After being dropped on his first ball, Patterson, who earned a debut in the first Test at Brisbane after hitting 157 and 102 for a Cricket Australia XI in a warm-up against Sri Lanka, never looked back.
The New South Welshman shored up his credentials ahead of an Ashes tour to England later this year by bringing up his hundred with a drive to mid-off for three after starting the day on 25.
From drought to flood
Following a century drought stretching back to October when Usman Khawaja scored 141 against Pakistan in Dubai, it turned into a flood in Canberra with three players bringing up the magical mark.
Opener Joe Burns punished the inexperienced Sri Lankan attack on Friday in a 308-run stand with Travis Head (161), carrying his bat through the day. But he only lasted five overs Saturday after resuming on 172, adding eight runs before chopping a delivery from quick Kasun Rajitha onto his stumps.
He trudged off dejected after missing a glorious chance to notch a first Test double century against a team missing its three first-choice pace bowlers – Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera – through injury.
The last Australian to reach 200 remains former skipper Steve Smith, who made 239 against England at the WACA Ground in December 2017 before being banned for ball-tampering.
Burns’ departure brought the consistent Paine to the crease, who took his time to get off the mark but then hit some cracking boundaries to keep the pressure on the visitors, who lost the first Test in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs.
At the other end Patterson, who had been on the fringe of selection for a number of years, grabbed his chance with both hands, smashing 14 fours and a six in his breakthrough knock.
Patterson was prefered for Brisbane and Canberra to young batting prospect Will Pucovski, who was released from the squad late Friday to deal with mental health issues that have plagued him in the past.