Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day

Australia five wickets from victory

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

September 2, 2011

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Sri Lanka 105 and 120 for 5 (M Jayawardene 57*, Harris 3-24) need another 259 runs to beat Australia 273 and 210 (Clarke 60, Herath 5-79)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Ryan Harris is overjoyed after bowling Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day, September 2, 2011
Ryan Harris picked up three wickets © AFP
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Ryan Harris bowled Australia to within sight of victory on the third day in Galle, but a fighting half-century from Mahela Jayawardene ensured the match would spill into the fourth day. Sri Lanka needed 379 to win, which would be their highest Test chase, but on a wearing pitch they had little chance of a miracle and by stumps they were teetering at 120 for 5 on another day that was dominated by the Australians.

Australia's lower order added 95 valuable runs to their overnight total after rain delayed the start of play until after lunch, and when Harris struck with the first ball, it seemed only a matter of time until the victory was confirmed. But as the sun set, a 52-run partnership from Jayawardene (57 not out) and Angelo Mathews frustrated Australia, who knew that with one more wicket they would be into Sri Lanka's tail.

Jayawardene had played a composed innings, handling the difficult conditions better than any of his team-mates, while Mathews, on 32, provided solid support. They had come together after Harris picked up the third of his wickets by bowling Prasanna Jayawardene, who recorded his second pair in Test cricket, both of which had come against Australia.

Another man with a poor record against Australia, Thilan Samaraweera, also made a duck when he tried to leave a Mitchell Johnson delivery outside off but tickled a catch behind. Kumar Sangakkara (17) was the victim of a brute of a delivery from Shane Watson, who used the angle from around the wicket and the pitch's variable bounce to give Sangakkara a bumper that he couldn't avoid.

Smart stats

  • The highest total chased successfully by Sri Lanka in the fourth innings of Tests is 352, which they scored losing nine wickets against South Africa in 2006. They've scored more than 300 only twice.
  • Sri Lanka's highest in fourth innings in all Tests is 410 against Australia in Hobart, in a Test they lost.
  • The highest fourth-innings score in Galle is 210 for 9, by England in 2003.
  • Mahela Jayawardene has scored 1884 Test runs in Galle, at an average of 78.50. It's the third-highest aggregate by a batsman at a ground.
  • Only once in their Test history have Sri Lanka won a Test after conceding a first-innings lead of more than 100: against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 1995.
  • Sri Lanka have lost only three out of 29 home Tests in the last seven years.

The ball hit the bat and lobbed to Michael Hussey at gully, and it was the key wicket for Australia after they got rid of both openers early. Harris gave Australia the best possible start when he had Paranavitana lbw from the first ball of the innings.

The batsman decided against reviewing Aleem Dar's decision, which is usually the wisest course of action, but on this occasion he would have been saved as the ball pitched a fraction outside leg. Sangakkara survived an equally confident shout from the Australians from the next delivery, and they did review Dar's not-out call only to discover the ball had again pitched a hair's breadth outside leg.

It wasn't long, though, until Harris struck again, nipping the ball off the seam and through the big gap between bat and pad left by the captain Dilshan, who for the second time in the match set his team-mates a terrible example. Application was required but Australia's lower order had shown that runs could still be scored on the dusty surface.

Following the early dismissal of Johnson, who top-edged an attempted slog sweep off Rangana Herath, the final three pairs added 80 runs. Usman Khawaja looked much less nervous than in the first innings and made a composed 26, which featured some fine footwork against the spinners. He advanced to Herath and drove handsomely for a boundary through cover, and lofted a six over long-on from the bowling of Suraj Randiv, in both cases smothering the turn by getting to the pitch of the ball.

It took the introduction of Chanaka Welegedara to end Khawaja's stay with an inswinger, the batsman plumb lbw as he walked across his stumps. However, Harris, Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon kept the runs flowing, Harris striking the ball confidently in his 23 until he delivered a caught-and-bowled to Herath, who finished with a career-best 5 for 79.

Copeland (23 not out) and Lyon (13) put on 32 for the final wicket, sweeping like a pair of janitors as Herath bowled too far down leg side. The last wicket came when Lyon skied a catch to long-on from the bowling of Dilshan, but by then the Sri Lankans had already lost any realistic chance of victory.

Their best fourth-innings chase was 352 against South Africa in Colombo five years ago. Even the most ardent Sri Lankan fan would have to acknowledge that it's not a record likely to be broken in Galle.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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