For a time it looked as if Sri Lanka, well beaten in Hobart and Melbourne, could make a contest of it as Dimuth Karunaratne and skipper Mahela Jayawardene almost wiped out the 138-run innings deficit with a century stand before wickets tumbled.
At the close, Sri Lanka were a shaky 225 for seven and leading by 87 runs with two days left with Dinesh Chandimal on 22 and Rangana Herath not out nine.
“It could have gone the wrong way for us this afternoon but luckily enough our bowlers were good enough and they did well to pull it back,” said Australia wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, whose thrilling century set up a pre-lunch declaration.
“We’ve got to take three wickets as quickly as we can because we don’t want to be chasing too many runs on that wicket.” After lunch, opener Tillakaratne Dilshan failed for the fifth time since his 147 in the first Hobart Test when he was caught centimetres from the ground by Phil Hughes at third slip off Johnson in the seventh over.
Jayawardene then watched four batting partners depart as he tried to keep his team’s innings together, but upon his dismissal just inside the final hour it was all downhill for Sri Lanka. Karunaratne edged Jackson Bird to Wade for 85 to end a 108-run stand with Jayawardene in the 34th over when Sri Lanka were still trailing by six runs.
“We were very disappointed with the batting in the last session. If Chandimal can put some runs on the board tomorrow, we can do something on this track. I think (a lead of) 150, 175 would be a good target for us,” Karunaratne said. In the morning session, Wade scored a thrilling unbeaten century batting with the tail as Australia added 90 more runs before declaring to lead Sri Lanka by 138 runs.
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