Sri Lanka whittle through openers until Michael Hussey puts up a stand for Australia on first day of Test series.
|Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan falls to Ryan Harris as the Aussies take control [AFP]|
Australia closed in on a convincing victory in the first Test in Galle on Friday after Sri Lanka’s top order was ripped apart for a second time.
Sri Lanka, set an improbable target of 379 to win on a crumbling wicket, were tottering at 120-5 at the close of the third day’s play at the Galle International Stadium.
Former captain Mahela Jayawardene provided a batting lesson for his team-mates, making an unbeaten 57 with the help of eight boundaries.
Angelo Mathews was the other not out batsman on 32, having put on 52 runs for the sixth wicket with his senior partner.
Australia start the fourth day’s play on Saturday needing five more wickets to win and take the lead in the three-Test series, their first in Sri Lanka since 2004.
Sri Lanka need to defy history to stop the tourists – the highest fourth innings score at the ground is 210 by New Zealand two years ago.
The hosts, who were shot out for 105 in the first innings, succumbed to a hostile three-wicket burst by Ryan Harris and probing seam bowling from Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson.
Harris trapped Tharanga Paranavitana leg-before with the first ball of the innings and then bowled Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan in his fourth over to leave the hosts 15-2.
Kumar Sangakkara would have been another Harris victim, but survived a review for leg-before off the first ball he faced.
|Third day scorecard|
Australia 1st innings – 273
Australia 2nd innings (overnight 116-6)
S Watson c S’weera b Welegedara 0
Sri Lanka 2nd innings
Harris, a 31-year-old playing only his sixth Test, followed his defiant 23 in Australia’s second innings with 2-15 in his first five overs.
“I was happy how I bowled even in the first innings, I don’t think I was far from getting wickets then,” said the paceman, who had conceded just six runs from eight overs without taking a wicket on Thursday.
“I have not seen too many dry wickets like this and we were just trying to exploit the cracks.
“We are in a good position and it will be nice if we can finish it off early. But the two guys out there (Jayawardene and Mathews) are pretty settled.”
Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s two most experienced batsmen, attempted to rebuild after the shaky start with a 37-run stand on either side of the tea break.
Watson, who took three wickets in 10 balls in the first innings, broke the partnership when Sangakkara (17) fenced a vicious rising delivery to Mike Hussey at gully.
Thilan Samaraweera edged a ball from Johnson to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin for a 14-ball duck, leaving Sri Lanka on 63-4.
Harris bowled Prasanna Jayawardene to complete a pair for the Sri Lankan wicket-keeper, but Mathews dug in to ensure the game went into the fourth day.
Australia resumed at 115-6 after the whole of the morning session was wiped out by heavy rain and were dismissed for 210 in their second innings midway through the post-lunch session.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath finished with 5-79 to add to his three wickets in the first innings.
Usman Khawaja put on 40 for the eighth wicket with Harris before falling leg-before to Chanaka Welegedara for 26 to leave Australia 170-8.
Australia’s total was boosted by a last-wicket stand of 32 between debutants Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon.
Lyon made 13 before he was caught in the deep off Dilshan, leaving Copeland unbeaten on 23.