Smith seeks solution to Australia spin woes


Steve Smith said Australia must go back to the drawing board and find a solution to counter the threat of Sri Lanka's spinners after they suffered a stunning 106-run first-Test defeat in Pallekele.

The tourists were strong favourites to take a lead in the three-match series when they bowled Sri Lanka out for only 117 on day one.

Sri Lanka pulled off an unlikely fightback courtesy of a magnificent 176 from Kusal Mendis which put Australia on the back foot, with spinners Rangana Herath (5-54) and Lakshan Sandakan (3-49) generating plenty of turn to bowl Smith's side out for 161 on day five.

Peter Nevill (9 from 115 balls) and the injured Stuart O'Keefe (4 off 98 deliveries) held up Sri Lanka with a stand of four from almost 30 overs - including a record 154 balls without scoring a run - but the top-ranked Test side were put out of their misery before tea.

Australia have now lost five consecutive Tests in Asia and this was only their second loss against Sri Lanka in the longest format - the other coming 17 years ago - and Smith cut a frustrated figure after suffering his first Test loss as captain.

"It is disappointing," Smith, who was the only Australian to make a half-century with his 55 in the second innings, said. "I said before the game that we haven't played well in subcontinent conditions for quite a while now.

"It's something that under my captaincy I want to change. There were glimpses throughout this game that we've improved in some aspects but I think we just let ourselves down a lot as well."

Smith was trapped leg before by Herath, but vowed to maintain his positive mindset.

He added: "I generally play spinners quite aggressively. I've hit that ball for four or six several times throughout my career. I got beaten on the inside of the bat.

"It's just summing it up and making sure I play with a straighter bat if I'm trying to go over the top. I know it looked ugly and it probably didn't look great. For me, it's about making sure I still have that intent to score."

Jon Holland will join up with the Australia squad as a replacement for hamstring-injury victim O'Keefe for the second Test in Galle next week and Smith is confident the left-arm spinner can make an impact.

He said: "Galle is the biggest spinning place here in Sri Lanka, or so we've been told so it's going to play a big part again.

"Jon Holland is a class bowler, he's done pretty well in state cricket and having a left-arm orthodox bowler in these conditions is a must.

"He's accurate, he hits a good area and hopefully we can see some of the same as what we saw from Steve and Rangana, with some balls spinning and some balls skidding. It's incredibly hard to play against and I'm looking forward to him getting here and having a couple of days' preparation with us."