Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo: A fighting century partnership from Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal helped Sri Lanka recover from a precarious position to reach 141 for five at tea against Australia in the third and final Test here today.
The hosts, who elected to bat first on a bright sunny morning, lost five wickets for 55 runs before lunch with Australian bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon wiping out the top order. Starc and Lyon shared five wickets between them to rattle the Sri Lankan batting line-up, but De Silva and Chandimal put together a 115-run unbeaten stand to keep the hosts in the hunt. De Silva, who scored his maiden half-century in his third Test, continued his gritty innings by reaching 74 at tea, with strong support from Chandimal who was unbeaten on 37 at the break.
After settling at the crease, the two batsmen counter-attacked against an aggressive Australian onslaught who kept pushing hard by rotating their bowling options. De Silva’s 149-ball stay was laced with 11 boundaries while Chandimal has so far hit three boundaries. Medium-pacer Josh Hazlewood, left-arm spinner Jon Holland and allrounder Mitchell Marsh have so far returned wicketless during their spells. Earlier the visitors dominated the morning session with Starc striking early to have Kaushal Silva trudging back to the pavilion after a 15-ball duck.
Lyon, who had had been criticised for failing to utilise the turning conditions, also proved effective at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground with his two wickets. The spinner seemed to have learnt his lessons on these pitches after getting Kusal Perera caught at first slip and then the prized wicket of Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews, who was out for just one.
The left-handed Perera looked good during his 32-ball 16 which included three boundaries, but was done in by a beauty from Lyon that pitched and turned to take an outside edge of the bat. Starc also kept the other end busy with his wicket-taking as he bowled opener Dimuth Karunaratne for the fifth time in the series. (AFP)
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