Sri Lanka take upper hand as Australia wobble in chase
July 29 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka set Australia a stiff 268-run victory target before claiming three wickets in a truncated afternoon session to take the upper hand on the penultimate day of the first test in Pallekele on Friday.
Skipper Steve Smith (26) and Adam Voges (nine) guided Australia to 83 for three when bad light forced early tea with the visitors still needing 185 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Earlier, Kusal Mendis fell for a marathon 176 but the Sri Lankan tail wagged as the hosts, resuming on 282 for six, posted 353 all out in their second innings.
Mendis added seven runs to his overnight before Mitchell Starc (4-84) dismissed him caught behind.
Rangana Herath (35) frustrated the Australians with his belligerent batting until substitute fielder Moises Henriques took a stunning one-handed diving catch to send him back.
Herath was soon back to torment the touring side again, this time with the ball, when the left-arm spinner bowled David Warner who ended the match with scores of one and zero.
Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera trapped Usman Khawaja (18) lbw and left-arm Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan bowled Joe Burns (29) with a sharp-turning delivery to reduce Australia to 63-3.
Persistent rain washed out the final sessions of the first two days of the test and allowed only 10 overs to be bowled after tea on Thursday.
There was no respite on the penultimate day either, as steady drizzle delayed the start by an hour and allowed only 7.3 overs in the first session.
Australia are without their hamstrung left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who hobbled off the ground on Thursday and is set to miss the rest of the three-test series.