Lee slices through Sri Lankan batting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lee slices through Sri Lankan batting

By Greg Buckle 10/11/2007 08:13:13 PM Comments (0)

Brett Lee tried to deflect praise onto his fellow quicks but, after picking up 5-52 in the first Test against Sri Lanka, it's clear Lee is relishing the role of spearhead in the post-Glenn McGrath era.

Led by Lee's 4-26 and 1-26, Australia had Sri Lanka on the ropes at two for 80 in their second innings, still trailing by 260 runs, at stumps on the third day at the Gabba.

Forced to follow on 340 runs behind on the first innings, Sri Lanka will rely heavily on Sunday on captain Mahela Jayawardene (eight not out) and Michael Vandort (15no).

Medium-pacer Andrew Symonds had opener Marvan Atapattu caught behind for 16 and Lee picked up the dangerous Sanath Jayasuriya caught at second slip by a diving Ricky Ponting for a hard-hitting 39 to pile on the misery for the tourists late on Saturday.

But with 563-wicket hero Glenn McGrath now retired, Australia have importantly taken a big step in sorting out their bowling strategy.

Lee, who turned 31 two days ago and has 236 Test wickets, says having Stuart Clark playing a McGrath-like role and debutant Mitchell Johnson adding variety with his left-arm thunderbolts allows him to proceed as normal.

"Stuie Clark (49 wickets in 10 Tests) has fitted in beautifully. He bowls the same line and length as Glenn has done which makes my job a lot easier because I can go about my business," Lee said.

Lee's patient 17.5-over performance on a flat batting track in Sri Lanka's first innings showed a mature approach suggesting the blond strike bowler can be the man to carry the attack.

"When you bowl close to 20 overs, it's always nice when the rewards come your way," Lee said.

"The guys all did a great job. We were trying to bowl in partnerships.

"It was great to be out there with Mitch to get his first Test wicket.

"I think back to when I took my first Test wicket. It's such a great feeling.

"Stuie MacGill bowled well as did Stuie Clark.

"The bowlers were on pretty much a high, getting a few back-to-back wickets.

"We thought why not go out there and try to put a bit more pressure on them this afternoon (by forcing the follow-on). The aim was to try to pick up one wicket.

"To have them two down overnight, we are in a pretty good spot."

Earlier, Lee led the way as they skittled the Sri Lankan batting lineup for 211 in 81.5 overs in their first innings.

Queenslander Johnson took 2-49 in a solid debut performance while Clark was his usual reliable self with 2-46.

Leg-spinner MacGill took 1-79 to move to 199 Test wickets.

In reply to the home side's four for 551 declared, Sri Lanka lost three wickets in the morning session to be five for 124 at lunch.

Johnson grabbed his first Test scalp when Thilan Samaraweera (13) edged through to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist at 4-65. Clark had taken the key wicket of captain Mahela Jayawardene (14) 20 runs earlier.

Chamara Silva (40) and Atapattu shared a 54-run stand but Silva was caught at third man off the bowling of Clark shortly before lunch.

Sri Lankan opener Marvan Atapattu (51) top-edged a pull shot off the bowling of Johnson with Phil Jaques taking the catch at square leg, Australia's only success in the middle session.

But Sri Lanka's resistance crumbled after tea with Andrew Symonds getting through the defences of Farveez Maharoof (21) and MacGill bowling left-hander Chaminda Vaas for 8.

Lee wrapped up Sri Lanka's first innings in consecutive overs, trapping wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene lbw for 37 before Dilhara Fernando was caught at mid-on for seven.

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