There was finally some relief in the Australian camp after the disappointment of the series loss against India at home. The home side bounced back with an innings and 40-run win over Sri Lanka in the day-night Test held at the Gabba.
The architect of the triumph was man-of-the-match Pat Cummins, who picked up a 10-wicket haul in the match — the first by an Australian bowler at home since Nathan Lyon’s 12/286 against India in 2014.
“I thought it was a really great effort this week,” Cummins said after the first Test. “Everyone performed so it was great stuff. I think the pitch helped a lot. Big thanks to the curators, it was a beautiful Test wicket. I really enjoyed bowling on it but I think just the discipline of our unit showed.
“We built up a lot of pressure and I thought that was the best we’ve bowled this summer. I think the pink ball helps when it’s swinging around a bit. Makes it a bit easier to get that fuller length. I was really happy with my consistency. Fortunately they nicked a couple,” Cummins, who now has 90 wickets in just 19 Tests at an average of 22.47, said.
Australian captain Tim Paine was under tremendous pressure after the 2-1 Test series loss to India. The skipper was impressed by the performance of you Australian batsmen Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, who both hit impressive fifties to get the team out of trouble.
“It was a pretty well rounded performance. There’s a few things we can improve on but for a young group and a new group coming together it’s a pretty good start. I think Kurtis coming in looked every bit a Test player. The other two (Labuschagne and Head) have played a few Tests and you can see they’re starting to get a little bit of experience and confidence at this level and I thought the way they played when we were under a bit of pressure was outstanding,” Paine said during the presentation ceremony at the Gabba on Saturday (January 26).
Paine admitted that grabbing the crucial opportunities that came their way was the difference in this Test.
“We were disappointed after the India series. We didn’t think we were too far away but we just let slip some crucial moments. I think that was the difference in this Test. We won those moments. If you can do that consistently you win more Test matches,” he said.
The skipper also had a word of praise for the Australian pace attack led by Cummins. “I thought the way (Cummins) bowled, regardless of his 10 wickets, He got the ball in the right areas so many times and ended up getting the 10 wickets but I also thought the bowlers did a great job. Jhye Richardson in his first Test was outstanding,” Paine felt.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal admitted his side were ‘below par’ in the Gabba Test. “We are really disappointed as a team. Our batting was below par. We all know when we come to Australia you will get a lot of bounce and at the Gabba there’s something for the fast bowlers. As a batting unit we had to step up if you want to win a game here,” Chandimal said after the match.
“Lakmal was outstanding. He always does a consistent performance. We just want to take the positives out of this. Suranga Lakmal’s five wicket haul and Niroshan’s (Dickwella) two innings. We are a young team and we need some experience,” a disappointed Lankan skipper said.