AN unbeaten century by Phil Hughes in Hobart yesterday gave Australia an even chance of squaring the one-day series against Sri Lanka.
With injured skipper Michael Clarke watching on, Australia looked in trouble at 2-37 from 10 overs, but thanks to a brilliant 138 not out from 154 balls by Hughes, the home side was able to reach 5-247 off its 50 overs.
After being sent in, David Warner was the first to go, bowled by one from Tillakaratne Dilshan that turned, justifying the decision by skipper Mahela Jayawardene to open with the off-spinner.
Makeshift opener Matthew Wade was the next to go, trapped lbw for 22 trying to play an ambitious front foot late cut to seamer Nuwan Kulasekera.
Most of the batsmen struggled early, Hughes included.
He was lucky to survive on 20 when he got a bottom edge to a ball that ricocheted off his leg onto the stumnps, but the bails stayed put.
He reached his 50 off 82 balls and grew in confidence as the innings progressed, reaching his century from 132 balls by cutting medium-pacer Thisara Perera to the boundary at backward point.
Stand-in skipper George Bailey came and went for 17, before David Hussey joined Hughes, the pair putting on 98 for the fourth wicket before Hussey ran himself out on 34 attempting a non-existent single.
It was the second century of the five-match series for Hughes who became the first Australian player to make a ton on debut when he knocked up 112 in game one at the MCG earlier this month.
Speaking to Channel Nine, Clarke said x-rays had cleared him of a fractured ankle, but further scans were needed to determine the exact extent of the injury.
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