Peter Siddle, the Australia fast bowler, has said it will be difficult for his side to force a win against Sri Lanka on the final two days of the third Test in Colombo. The hosts reached 428 for 6 at the close of the third day, putting them 112 runs ahead with Angelo Mathews still at the crease on 85.
While Australia toiled manfully in unrelenting heat and on the most placid of wickets, Sri Lanka's batting has pushed them into a corner where a fight for the draw may be the best path to securing a series victory.
"You never say you can't but it is going to be tough for us," Siddle said. "We're 100 behind now and with only two days to play, so it is a matter of getting these four wickets tomorrow morning and then getting out there with the bat.
"It was a long, hard day, hot weather and tough work for the boys, but I think we stuck in all day; another couple of wickets with the new ball would've been nice, but we kept it nice and tight and restricted them the whole day."
Crucial to Siddle's contribution, which included two top-order wickets and plenty of sweat, has been the use of a fuller length than he has previously employed. Siddle struggled noticeably in the tour warm-up match at P Sara Oval, but has made significant strides since and did creditably as a replacement for the injured Ryan Harris.
"My length on wickets that offer up a bit of bounce is a touch shorter than normal, that's the success I've had on those types of wickets," he said. "Over here it is a little bit flatter and a little bit slower, so that fuller length doesn't give batsmen a lot of time to see the ball and feel the ball onto the bat; that's something I've worked on and it's coming out alright."
The last 10 overs of the day yielded just 16 runs when Sri Lanka might have tried to press on, and Siddle noted Mathews' nearness to his first Test century might be slowing him down.
"There's a bit playing on Mathews' mind. He wants to get that hundred, he's fallen short a couple times and he hasn't got one yet. So that's probably there and he knows he's batting with the tailenders, so he's probably looking at that as well.
"It's going to be real tough for us to win from here. But if we can get one or two before the third new ball, we can get out there early with the bat."