Rangana Herath took six wickets for his 25th five-wicket haul in Test cricket as Australia slumped from 267-1 to 379 all out in its first innings on the third day of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Monday.
Night watchman Dilruwan Perera was lbw to Mitchell Starc for eight in the five overs before stumps as Sri Lanka reached 22-1, trailing by two runs.
After a dominant morning session Australia could manage only a 24-run first innings lead in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 355, leaving the match evenly poised.
Overnight batsmen opener Shaun Marsh and captain Steve Smith scored centuries in the morning as they added 94 runs to their teams’ overnight score of 141-1. They shared 246 runs for the second wicket after David Warner (11) had been dismissed with the total on 21 on the second day.
“Pretty balanced at the moment,” Marsh said of the status of the match. “Obviously very important first session tomorrow. We can try and get some early wickets and put them under pressure, try and keep them under a lowest possible score.”
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford thinks the conditions favor Sri Lanka slightly more, with Australia likely to bat on a deteriorating pitch.
“The game has been a roller coaster ride for both teams. Both teams are very much in the Test match right now and there is a heck of a lot to play for,” he said. “Both sides have outstanding players capable of changing the flow of the match. From our point of view we just feel bowling last on this wicket will give (us) a bit of an advantage.”
Marsh scored 130 for his fourth Test hundred which came off 281 balls, including 19 boundaries and Smith – who averages close to 60 in Test cricket – made 119, his 15th Test century. Smith hit a six and 10 boundaries.
Sri Lanka took the new ball after lunch with Australia on 257-1 and seamer Suranga Lakmal soon bowled out Marsh off the inside edge to end a stubborn stand that lasted nearly five hours and for 473 deliveries.
Then, Herath lured Smith outside the crease and he was stumped by Kusal Perera.
The inexperienced Moises Henriques departed in a similar stumping for four as Australia went to tea at 316-4.
Six wickets fell in the final session and Marsh’s younger brother Mitchell Marsh scored 53, while the impressive Herath returned 6-81.
Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 26 on the first morning before Dinesh Chandimal (132) and Dhananjaya de Silva (129) combined to rescue the innings.
Sri Lanka has an unbeatable 2-0 series lead.