Australia removed Sri Lanka’s openers cheaply to leave the tourists clinging on at 65 for two and chasing an imposing 393 runs for victory at the close of play on Sunday on the fourth day of the first Test yesterday.
However, there was bad news for the hosts on the injury front, with skipper Michael Clarke retiring hurt after smashing 57 runs off 46 balls to help drive his side to 278 in their second innings.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 336 in reply to Australia’s first innings 450 for five declared and will need to set a new record for a fourth innings run chase at Hobart to beat the 369 Australia scored against Pakistan in 1999.
At stumps, Sri Lanka’s hopes were in the experienced hands of Kumar Sangakkara (18 not out) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who took 25 balls to get off the mark and was unbeaten on five. Spinner Rangana Herath took five for 95 to mop up Australia’s tail.
While the Sri Lankan bowlers had to wait for their reward after being frustrated by the hosts’ openers for much of the morning, their Australian counterparts made a more immediate impact.
Shane Watson, taking on a bigger bowling burden after Sunday’s side injury to quick Ben Hilfenhaus, struck with his first ball to remove Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 147 in the first innings, caught behind for 11.
Dimuth Karunaratne had put 30 runs on the board when he also fell victim to a superb delivery — a sizzling Mitchell Starc yorker that hammered into the base of the off-stump.
Despite his injury, Clarke had led his team out to field, but missed a chance to remove Sangakkara when he dropped him in the slips when the batsman was on three.
Openers David Warner (68) and Ed Cowan (56) had combined for a partnership of 132, but both were removed before lunch in an appetizer for what was to come in the second session.
Herath had been belted for a six and a switch-hit four by Warner, but got his revenge when his carrom delivery took a bottom edge and carried to the wicketkeeper. Cowan joined his partner in the pavilion 15 minutes later when Chanaka Welegedara, who finished with 3-89, swung in a fizzing delivery that hit the Australian’s pad before taking off the bails.
Watson suffered torrid examination from Herath before he was stumped by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene for five soon after lunch to bring Wade in at No. 5 as Australia looked to up the run rate heading toward the expected declaration.
Three overs later, however, Phil Hughes played the ball onto his own wicket to depart for 16 and Wade did not last that much longer before holing out to Kulasekara for 11.
After Clarke’s departure, Peter Siddle (four), Starc (five) and Lyon (11) made brief appearances before Herath trapped Hilfenhaus lbw for a duck to end the innings at tea.
ENGLAND VS INDIA
The fourth and final Test between India and England ended in a draw yesterday to earn the visitors their first series win in India for 28 years.
England started yesterday on 161-3 in their second innings and only lost one wicket during the course of the day’s play, Jonathan Trott, who was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin for 143.
The visitors finished on 352-4, with Ian Bell uneaten on 116 and Joe Root 20 not out.
England won the four-match series 2-1.