Australia were on the verge of a four-day victory in the final Test and a series clean sweep after a Sri Lanka batting collapse on the third day at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.
For a time it looked as if Sri Lanka 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 225-7, giving them a lead of 87. The not out batsmen were Dinesh Chandimal on 22 and Rangana Herath on 9.
After lunch, opener Tillakaratne Dilshan failed for the fifth time since his 147 in the first Test in Hobart when he was caught centimeters from the ground by Phil Hughes at third slip off Mitchell 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 for 60 just inside the final hour it was all downhill for Sri Lanka.
Karunaratne edged Jackson Bird to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for 85 to end a 108-run stand with Jayawardene in the 34th over when Sri Lanka were still trailing by six runs.
First innings topscorer Lahiru Thirimanne survived a leg before review before he fell hooking Johnson to Bird at fine leg in the 41st over. The left-hander made 7.
Thilan Samaraweera completed a wretched series when he went after spinner Nathan Lyon and skied to long-on, where Mike Hussey took the catch to a huge roar from the home crowd celebrating the Australian veteran’s farewell Test.
Samaraweera’s third-ball duck followed scores of 7, 49, 10, 1 and 12 in the three-Test series.
A mix-up led to Angelo Mathews being run out for 16 after he failed to beat a throw from David Warner.
Jayawardene was out four balls later, ending his 200-minute resistance when he edged Peter Siddle to Michael Clarke at first slip and the tourists had tumbled to 178-6 and a lead of only 40.
Dhammika Prasad became Mitchell Starc’s first wicket when caught behind for 15 heading into the final half-hour.
In the morning session Wade scored a thrilling unbeaten century as Australia added 90 more runs before declaring to lead Sri Lanka by 138.
Wade opened up in a last-wicket stand of 39 with Bird to grab his second Test century and gave skipper Clarke the opportunity to declare his team’s innings at 432-9 in the half hour before lunch.
Wade rushed towards his teammates in the Sydney Cricket Ground Members Stand and kissed his helmet after crashing Suranga Lakmal for a boundary to raise his century off 158 balls, after setting out on the third day on 47.
He was dropped by Prasad at fine leg two balls later going for another big heave before Clarke called a halt with the declaration.
Bird provided staunch support to give Wade his chance to go after his against-the-odds century. Wade was on 70 when the fast bowler came to the crease. Bird made an unbeaten 6.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath finished with 4-95 off 31 overs.
Australia lost the wickets of Siddle (38), Starc (2) and Lyon (4) on the third morning.