Tillakaratne Dilshan hit a composed century and shared a record stand with all-rounder Angelo Mathews (75), who was out minutes before Tea, as Sri Lanka got to 249 for five at the break against Australia in the first Test of the series.
After starting the day on 87 for four, the duo shared a vital 161-run partnership — which is the highest by a Sri Lankan pair in Australia for any wicket — to save the Lankans the blushes and all but avoided follow on. The hosts, who had gone wicketless in the first session of the day, finally managed to break through via Peter Siddle (two for 44) as Mathews was trapped leg-before.
Earlier, Sri Lanka pounced on Australia's depleted bowling attack on Sunday morning.
Dilshan (132 not out) scored his first century in Australia and second against the Australians just before a downpour sent teams heading to the changerooms, forcing an early lunch.
After racing into the 90s, the veteran opener was subdued for 30 minutes before he brought up his 15th Test century with a cut for four – the 16th of his innings from 151 deliveries.
Resuming at 4 for 87, he and vice-captain Angelo Mathews added exactly 100 to take the visitors to 187 for 4 at Lunch, needing another 64 to avoid the follow on.
The Sri Lankan cause has been helped by an injury to fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, as Australia's quicks' curse struck again.
Hilfenhaus sent down two deliveries in his fourth over of the morning before pulling up in discomfort.
The Tasmanian fast bowler then grabbed his hat and immediately left the field, stretching his back and side before leaving the venue for scans on his left side.
Australia is already without James Pattinson (side strain), Josh Hazlewood (foot), Pat Cummins (back), Josh Hastings (back) and Ryan Harris (knee) due to injury.
Brief Scores: Australia 450 for 5 dec. (Michael Hussey 115*, Philip Hughes 86, Michael Clarke 70*, Matthew Wade 68*, David Warner 57; Chanaka Welegedra 3 for 130) lead Sri Lanka 249 for 5 (Tillakaratne Dilshan 132*, Angelo Mathews 75; Peter Siddle 2 for 44) by 201 runs
First Published: December 16, 2012, 10:11 am