Tillakaratne Dilshan led a fighting counter-attack with an gutsy century as Sri Lanka trailed Australia by 141 runs with two days to play in the first Hobart Test yesterday.
Dilshan batted for almost seven hours for his 147 and shared in a record Sri Lanka stand in Australia with Angelo Mathews to get the tourists within 114 runs of the home side’s first innings of 450 for five declared.
The Australians tightened their grip on the match reaching third day stumps at 27 without loss and were in the box seat to press on for their first victory of the domestic summer after losing the recent three-Test series to South Africa.
At the close, Ed Cowan was on 16 with David Warner not out on eight.
Sri Lanka, boosted by Dilshan’s 15th Test century and good play from Mathews (75) and Prasanna Jayawardene (40), were bowled out for 336.
Peter Siddle, leading the Australian attack in the absence of injured Ben Hilfenhaus, knocked over the Sri Lankan tail to finish with five for 54 off 25.3 overs.
Dilshan’s innings-saving effort came to an end when he was yorked by Mitchell Starc in the 98th over about 30 minutes after tea.
The 36-year-old right-hander hit 21 boundaries off 273 balls and was primarily responsible for getting Sri Lanka past the 251 follow on after the tourists were in strife at 87 for four at stumps on Saturday.
It was Dilshan’s second century against Australia, following his 104 at Galle in 2004.
He shared in a record 161-run stand with Mathews for the fifth wicket that took the momentum away from the Australians for a large part of the third day.
It eclipsed Aravinda de Silva and Ravi Ratnayeke’s previous best stand for Sri Lanka down under of 144 for the seventh wicket at Brisbane in 1989.
Siddle triggered a late wicket collapse, trapping Prasanna Jayawardene and Rangana Herath (0) both leg before wicket, before Nuwan Kulasekara was caught in the deep by substitute Jordan Silk off Nathan Lyon for 23.
Siddle mopped up the innings with the wicket of Chanaka Welegedara for a duck, snapped up at gully by Mike Hussey leaving the Australians 14 overs to negotiate to stumps.
Swing bowler Hilfenhaus left the field in the opening hour after delivering just two balls of his 13th over. Team officials said he had a left side strain and was taken to hospital for scans.
ENGLAND V INDIA
An unbeaten 67-run partnership between Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell enabled England to reach stumps on 161 for three on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test against India in Nagpur yesterday. Trott is to resume on 66 and Bell on 24.
Kevin Pietersen (6) lost his wicket soon after tea, deciding not to play at a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja, which went on to hit his off-stump.
Earlier, India declared their first innings on 326 for nine — trailing by four runs — after a curious morning’s play where they posted only 29 runs and lost one wicket.