Siddle keeps Australia on top despite Dilshan ton
Australia 5 for 450 dec and 0 for 27 lead Sri Lanka 336 (Dilshan 147, Mathews 75, Siddle 5-54) by 141 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sri Lanka's erstwhile captain Tillakaratne Dilshan and their likely next leader Angelo Mathews did their best to drag their team back into the Test on the third day at Bellerive Oval, but a relentless Peter Siddle ensured Australia remained well on top. Again the weather in Hobart was fickle, leading to all sorts of session adjustments, and by the time a late stumps time arrived Australia's advantage had grown to 141, leaving them to set Sri Lanka a target over the next two days.
David Warner and Ed Cowan had reached stumps safely, Cowan on 16 and Warner on 8, and Australia were 0 for 27. There had been nervous moments for both men - Cowan would have been lbw on 5 had Nuwan Kulasekara convinced his captain to ask for a review, and Warner edged just wide of second slip - but all that mattered was that they had survived.
The Sri Lankans had been dismissed for 336 during the final session, their last four wickets falling for 20 runs after Dilshan and Mathews had earlier batted for the best part of two sessions without letting the Australians break through. Australia's cause was not helped by an injury to Ben Hilfenhaus, who left the field with a suspected side strain while bowling his fourth over, and it meant plenty of extra work for the rest of the attack. It was a good thing they had Siddle.
Against the South Africans in Adelaide last month, Siddle had carried Australia's bowling in a similar situation, when James Pattinson had suffered an injury mid-match, and here again he was the man to whom Michael Clarke turned. Siddle responded by attacking the stumps, drying up runs, accumulating maidens and eventually was rewarded with a five-wicket haul, including the key dismissals of Mathews for 75 and Prasanna Jaywardene for 40.
Siddle finished with 5 for 54 from his 25.3 overs and his efforts were all the more valuable because Australia's other fit genuine fast man, Mitchell Starc, struggled to find consistent lines and lengths. Dilshan and Mathews were allowed to rattle on at a fast tempo in the first session and although the runs slowed down after lunch, the wickets didn't start to pile up for Australia until the post-tea period.
Dilshan's third Test century in his past four Tests was the key for Sri Lanka, who required someone to anchor the innings after they stumbled to 4 for 87 at stumps on the second day. Dilshan had ample support from Mathews in a 161-run stand, a Sri Lankan Test record for any wicket in Australia, and he reached his hundred shortly before lunch, which was called early due to rain.
Although Dilshan was stuck in the nineties for half an hour, he eventually brought up the milestone from his 148th delivery by steering a ball from Siddle behind point for a boundary. His vocal celebration showed how important the innings was to him and his team, and it was important that he hadn't let things stagnate in the morning.
Dilshan was very strong through the off side, cutting and driving with power and he finished with 21 boundaries, largely in the region from backward point to long-off. Although he slowed down after lunch, and appeared to tire as the day wore on, he continued to blunt the bowlers, offering only the occasional half chance, an edge that flew safely or a swing and a narrow miss. By the end of his innings, Dilshan had played out 200 dot balls, a remarkable tally, but one that the Sri Lankans didn't care too much about given the runs he provided.
For much of his innings, Dilshan was accompanied by Mathews, who picked up a couple of early boundaries by pulling short deliveries and was very impressive down the ground to the spinner Nathan Lyon, using his feet well and taking few risks. He moved past his half-century from his 127th delivery but on 75 was lbw to Siddle, a review unable to save him from the umpire's verdict.
Not that the Australians were perfect in their use of the review system either. When Dilshan was on 125, the cordon gave a half-hearted shout for caught-behind but the bowler Siddle wasn't interested; had they reviewed the not-out call, Dilshan would have been gone, as Hot Spot indicated the ball had tickled the outside edge on the way through to Matthew Wade. Eventually Dilshan was bowled by a Starc yorker for 147, and from there the wickets started to fall more regularly.
Prasanna Jayawardene made a brisk 40 before he was the victim of a very judicious lbw review by Clarke off the bowling of Siddle. The umpire Tony Hill had turned the appeal down as it appeared to have come off the inside edge, but replays showed the ball had flicked the pad before the bat, and Jayawardene was sent on his way. Soon afterwards Rangana Herath was given lbw off Siddle and there had been an inside edge before pad, but Sri Lanka had no reviews left to reprieve Herath.
The final two wickets fell with the score on 336, Nuwan Kulasekara, who had earlier survived a missed stumping by Matthew Wade, caught on the boundary by the substitute Jordan Silk off the bowling of Nathan Lyon for 23, and then Chanaka Welegedara caught at gully off Siddle for a duck. It left Sri Lanka 114 behind on the first innings, and although they had boosted their chances of playing out a draw, much work remained for them over the remaining two days.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here