Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2013

Spinners can rescue us - Karunaratne

Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne said his side would target a lead in excess of 150 when they resume their second innings 87 runs ahead and with three wickets in hand, in Sydney on the fourth day. Sri Lanka had moved to within eight runs of wiping Australia's first-innings lead when they lost their second wicket, but five more batsmen fell in the third session to leave the visitors poorly placed.

Though the SCG pitch remained well-suited to batting, Karunaratne hoped Sri Lanka's spinners could defend a modest total, as the match approached a result. Dinesh Chandimal remained unbeaten on 22 at stumps on day three, with Rangana Herath for company.

"We did hard work in the first and second session, but we lost the last session which was very disappointing," Karunaratne said. "Chandimal is at the wicket, so he can do something tomorrow. If he puts some runs on the board, like 150-175, there is a chance to do something on this track.

"The wicket is turning a lot now and Australia are batting in the fourth innings. There's something on the wicket. I think Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan can do something for us."

Karunaratne also defended Thilan Samaraweera's shot selection, after Samaraweera had advanced down the pitch and aimed a slog over midwicket off Nathan Lyon, off the third ball he faced. The swipe produced a top edge that was taken at mid-off, leaving Sri Lanka four wickets down, being only 20 runs ahead.

"The things he is used to doing haven't been successful for him in the last two or three innings. He tried to do something different. He tried to attack and get some runs, spread the field and then he could play his normal game. There are different plans for different players. He had a different gameplan and he tried it, but he was unlucky. I think in the next series he will come to the fore again.

"We haven't had much luck, and it's been a disappointing series for all of us. We didn't bat well in the whole series, except when Tillakaratne Dilshan got a hundred in the first Test and Lahiru Thirimanne batted well in the first innings here."

Sri Lanka had played Nathan Lyon aggressively throughout the Test, and Karunaratne said that that had been their plan, as most Sri Lanka batsmen felt more comfortable against spin bowling. Lyon picked up Samaraweera's wicket, but was expensive at 4.84 runs an over, and was hit for three aerial fours in an over by Angelo Mathews despite the visitors' dire match situation.

"The Aussie fast bowlers are doing really well in the three sessions, and they do the basics right with line and length and set the field well. If we have a chance to get some runs, it's against the offspinner through mid-on and midwicket when those fielders are in the circle. Mathews is a good player to hit some big shots. Thilan also tried to do the same thing."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here