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Labuschagne relief with overseas Test ton

Marnus Labuschagne admits he feels as if the monkey is off his back after showing he can score centuries overseas with his first Test ton outside Australia.

Labuschagne batted superbly on Friday, chalking up 104 against Sri Lanka to help put Australia in the strong position of 5-298 at stumps on day one of the second Test.

Australia’s best batter of the pandemic-era, Labuschagne has played the majority of his Test cricket on home soil since becoming a sensation at No.3 in 2019-20.

Solid without starring in Pakistan, Labuschagne had been reminded at times on this tour about the fact all six of his centuries had come on home soil.

But he put paid to that in Galle, bringing up his century in 147 balls.

“It’s nice to get that one off the back, the first one away from home and to contribute,” Labuschagne said.

“It’s not something you sit there and think about all the time.

“But it’s definitely something reporters (bring up) and the media beat everything up a bit.

“It’s nice to score runs in different conditions and show people that you can play in not just bouncy, seaming or swinging conditions, but against spin as well.”

What was most impressive about Labuschagne’s knock was his ability to adapt.

Australia had expected the Galle wicket to spin as much as it did in the first Test that lasted two-and-a-bit days, but arrived to a firmer surface which was friendlier for batting on Friday.

It allowed both Labuschagne and fellow centurion Smith to be slightly more conservative, trust their defence and wait for looser balls.

The right-hander cut nicely square of the wicket when Sri Lanka went too short and offered width, while also adapting his sweep with a longer stride to counteract the inconsistent bounce.

In turn, the majority of his runs came square of the wicket, taking away the risk of being beaten by the turning ball.

“I think a really good method is you prepare for the worst (kind of pitch) and then adjust if it’s better,” Labuschagne said.

“I sweep on length. So as soon as I see it up out of the hand I just adjust the sweep to where the line ends up.

“If it’s wider, it goes straighter, or if it’s straighter, or it goes squarer.

“I have been putting a lot of work on that. Especially in these conditions when you get the lower bounce.

“Just making sure you get the hands low and you don’t get beaten underneath.”

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