Australia opened the ODI series against Sri Lanka with a so-so innings of 239/8, discovering a new nemesis along the way - Thisara Perera. The pace bowler picked up his second 5 wicket haul, striking some telling blows after Australia's steady start.
His opening partner Malinga drew first blood in the 7th over, getting rid of the dangerous Shane Watson for just 10. Brad Haddin justified his inclusion at the top of the order steadying the innings with an initially cautious captain Michael Clarke. But just when it looked like the duo were getting away with the initiative, Perera struck to peg back the hosts.
First Clarke was caught behind to a shrewd out-swinger from Perera that pitched on back of a length. Then Perera returned in his next over to get Haddin, who was trying an ambitious cut, caught by Tillakaratne Dishan at backward of point. In the very next ball, Perera castled a shaky Cameron White with a leg-cutting ripper.
Hussey was lucky to have survived a missed stumping chance off Murali earlier on and capitalised on the good fortune to forge partnerships with the available batsmen. Shaun Marsh struggled for his 31 before being dismissed by the deceptive off-spinner Suraj Randiv. What followed was smaller innings from the latter order. But Hussey stood his ground well, and kept pummeling away for singles and twos. He wound up with a hard-fought, unbeaten 71 off 91 balls with just one four to his credit.
Now one will have to wait and see what Sri Lanka's response is. Most of its top order is in good form with Jayawardane a real stand-out. Will Sangakarra and Dilshan stay firm from early on and help to overhaul this total or will the middle order come to the fore?