Lee enjoys being pace spearhead
A desire to protect his bowlers convinced Ricky Ponting to bat again as Australia looked to seal a 14th consecutive Test win. The home team had a lead of 296 after dismissing Sri Lanka in the final session, but Ponting chose not to enforce the follow-on as early as the fall of the eighth wicket.
"It was just the fact that it was back-to-back Tests and back-to-back innings," Brett Lee said. "He was just making sure the bowlers were looked after."
Lee, who was again impressive as the attack leader, was one of the main beneficiaries of the break after collecting his third four-wicket haul of the series. "Without saying it or thinking it, I've stepped up to the mark and really enjoyed that role," he said. "I'm really happy with way the ball is coming out."
He opened with two breakthroughs in his first spell of the morning to deflate Sri Lanka and finished off the innings by removing Dilhara Fernando and Mahela Jayawardene, who steered his team with 104. The most spectacular dismissal was his yorker to Michael Vandort that sent the middle stump tumbling.
"It's always nice when a plan comes off," he said of his opening success. "You get to the top of your mark and visualise, and sometimes you can see it going through and missing the batsman. When it comes off it's sweet."
At stumps Australia had reached 1 for 111, a lead of 407, and they are aiming to maintain their charge at the record of 16 wins achieved by Steve Waugh's side in 2001. "It would be lovely to get 16 or 17 straight, but if we worry about the stats and the record it's not going to be the best thing for us," Lee said. "We've got to win here first, it's going to take a lot of hard work, and it's a pretty flat old track."
Andrew Symonds did not field today - Lee was hopeful he would return from an ankle problem in the morning - and there was also a problem with Stuart MacGill. "He fell on his arm and at some stages was finding it hard to grip the ball," Lee said. "He bowled some great legspinners, the one he bowled to the left-hander was great." Sanath Jayasuriya was beaten trying to sweep MacGill and he finished with 2 for 81 after picking up Chamara Silva when he edged to Adam Gilchrist.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo