Following a disappointing One Day International series which saw Sri Lanka come out 3-2 victors, Australia bounced back in fine style when winning the first Test match with ease.
Australia wrapped up the Test within three days. It was their fastest Test win in 20 years and they can now turn their attention to the second and final Test in Galle that will get underway on Friday.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 212 in their first innings before the Aussies responded with 321 all-out to give themselves a tidy advantage. The real damage was done in Sri Lanka’s second innings as the home side were bowled out for 113.
Australia knocked off the 10 runs without losing a wicket to record an impressive 10-wicket victory and banish the memory of 2016.
They lost the series 3-0 on that occasion but dealt with the conditions much better this time and can take plenty of positives from the win.
So before we move on to the second Test, let’s take a look at what we learned from the first Test.
Nathan Lyon is key to the Australian bowling attack
Yes we have known this for some years now. However it was highlighted even more as he ripped through the Sri Lanka batting order.
The 34-year-old was not involved in the One Day International series and it is probably one of the reasons they lost it. But he showed his true class on his Test return.
The offspinner took nine wickets in the first Test and if he can take another seven in the second then only Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan will stand above him on the all-time list of leading offspinners.
Muralitharan tops the pile with 800 career wickets, while Lyon is on 436, just behind India’s Ravichandran Ashwin who has 442.
Plenty of credit has to go to Lyon for adapting his bowling to suit the sub-continent conditions.
He has struggled there in the past but has learned to use his top spin and bounce to his advantage and it paid off as five of his nine wickets came as the Sri Lankan batsmen attempted to sweep or reverse-sweep him.
They were beaten by the bounce and turn and it will be interesting to see how they try and respond in the second Test. One thing is for certain Lyon is at the top of his game and will be key to Australia wrapping up the series.
Mitchell Swepson has what it takes to be Lyon’s partner
Questions were being asked about the legspinner ahead of the first Test and there were one or two doubts over whether he would be selected at all.
He was often overlooked for the recent One Day International series despite the fact that Australia were struggling for spin options.
Swepson had struggled in Pakistan when taking just 2-266 across the two Test matches and there was a question mark over whether he had what it takes to be Lyon’s spin partner when Australia opt to play two.
Lyon always had the back of Swepson and defended his performances on a flat pitch in Pakistan and he stepped up to the plate in Sri Lanka.
Swepson took 3-55 off 13 overs in the first innings and backed that up with 2-34 overs in the second innings. It was an impressive performance and justified his call-up to the side.
He now looks sure to keep his place for the second Test in Galle. Australia do have another option with Jon Holland fit again but Swepson’s performance in the first Test should mean he keeps his place.
Australia can bat on tough pitches
Again there was a question mark over Australia’s batting on the sub-continent. They found it tough in the ODI series as they were hit by a barrage of spin bowling.
The Aussie batsmen admitted that the pitch in Galle was the toughest they have had to deal with. But they dealt with it well. And that was down to their desire to go on the attack and try to unsettle the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Australia hit 33 boundaries during their innings with opener Usman Khawaja the star of the show when smashing seven fours in his innings of 77.
David Warner also hit five fours in his 25 as Australia went for Sri Lanka from the off. It was not the perfect performance as Steve Smith and Travis Head made just six runs and Marnus Labuschagne 13.
But on the whole it was a good performance. Cameron Green also starred with 77 and Alex Carey 45. Captain Pat Cummins also smashed three sixes in his innings of 26.