Sri Lanka fightback to delay defeat against Australia

Australian players celebrate the fall of a wicket during the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle AFP

By CricketCountry Staff

Galle: Sep 2, 2011

Sri Lanka were tottering at 120 for five before bad light ensured stumps on day three of the first Test against Australia at Galle.

The hosts, chasing a mammoth 379, are trailing by 259 runs with two days of play still remaining.

Mahela Jayawardene was not out on 57, while all-rounder Angelo Matthews was batting on 32 as Sri Lanka tried to put up a fight after Ryan Harris ran through the top order.

Harris finished the day with figures of three for 24

Earlier, the right-arm fast bowler grabbed two early wickets to leave Sri Lanka facing defeat in the first Test in Galle on Friday.

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.

Harris, who contributed a defiant 23 in Australia’s second innings, claimed 2-15 in a hostile five-over opening spell.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s two most experienced batsmen, both former captains, denied the tourists further success till tea.

Both batsmen were unbeaten on 11 apiece after Sangakkara survived a review for leg-before off the first ball he faced from Harris.

History favours Australia to win the match and take the lead in the three-Test series — the highest fourth innings score at the ground is 210 by New Zealand two years ago.

Australia, who resumed at 115-6 after the entire morning session was wiped out by heavy rain, were dismissed for 210 in their second innings midway through the post-lunch session.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath finished with 5-79 after claiming three wickets in the first innings.

Australia added 15 runs to their overnight score when they lost the wicket of Mitchell Johnson, who top-edged Herath and the wicket-keeper took the skier comfortably.

Usman Khawaja had put on 40 for the eighth wicket with Harris when he was 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.

Brief Scores: Australia 273 & 210 (Michael Clarke 60; Rangana Herath 5 for 79) lead Sri Lanka 105 & 120 for 5 (Mahela Jayawardene 57; Ryan Harris 3 for 24) by 259 runs.

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