x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tough task to win now, says Siddle

Captain Dilshan and Mathews keep rivals at bay in hot weather after two early wickets and help the hosts to a lead for the first time in series.

Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, inspired a tenacious batting display as the hosts took charge of the third Test against Australia in Colombo yesterday.

Sri Lanka, seeking a series-levelling win, closed the third day's play at the Sinhalese Sports Club on 428 for six in their first innings, a lead of 112 runs over Australia's 316 with four wickets in hand.

Dilshan struck a rousing 83, Kumar Sangakkara made 79 in his 100th Test appearance, Mahela Jayawardene hit 51 and Angelo Mathews returned unbeaten on 85 as Sri Lanka led Australia for the first time in the series.

Prasanna Jayawardene chipped in with 47, sharing a sixth-wicket stand of 81 with Mathews that increased Australia's frustration in the field on a hot, humid day.

Dilshan, who had contributed just 56 runs in the previous four innings of the series, hammered 14 boundaries before he was caught behind off Trent Copeland just before tea.

Dilshan put on a valuable 121 for the fifth wicket with Mathews on either side of lunch after Australia had threatened to take charge in the morning session.

Peter Siddle, the Australian fast bowler who battled in trying conditions to finish the day with two for 76 from 27 overs, said his team faced a tough task over the next two days.

"It was a long hard day and hard work for the boys in hot weather," Siddle said. "But the boys stuck at it well, kept it nice and tight and restricted them a little bit throughout the day.

"It will be interesting in the morning. It's going to be really tough for us to win from here. The best we can do is to come out and quickly tie up the innings.

"Then go back and bat as best as we can for the next couple of days."

The tourists grabbed the crucial wickets of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the space of 12 runs after Sri Lanka resumed at the overnight score of 166 for two.

The pair, who compiled Test cricket's highest partnership of 624 at the same venue in 2006 against South Africa, put on 101 for the third wicket.

Jayawardene batted aggressively in the morning session to hit four boundaries but chased a wide ball from Shane Watson and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Then Sangakkara edged a rising ball from Siddle to Haddin.

* Agence-France Presse