Australia gave a fitting reply to Sri Lanka’s first-innings score of 355 by reaching 141-1 at stumps on Sunday, the second day of the third test. It was helped by half-centuries from Shaun Marsh and captain Steve Smith and their unbroken 120-run partnership for the second wicket.
Marsh was batting undefeated on 64 including 10 boundaries with Smith on 61 with a six and five boundaries. The pair came together after David Warner (11) fell early, threatening yet another Australian batting collapse seen repeatedly in the series.
Warner was dismissed in the fourth over, caught behind off spinner Dhananjaya de Silva.
The partnership between Marsh and Smith took 234 balls.
Sri Lanka was bowled out for 355
Sri Lanka was bowled out for 355 just before tea with Dinesh Chandimal top scoring with 132 and de Silva scoring 129 for his maiden test hundred in only his third game.
Chandimal was caught behind after facing 356 balls and hitting 13 boundaries and a six.
De Silva was dismissed in the morning session caught bat-pad by Marsh off spinner Nathan Lyon. His runs came off 280 balls and included 18 boundaries.
Chandimal and de Silva shared 211 runs for the sixth wicket, rebuilding the innings from a precarious 26 for five. Their partnership lasted nearly 5-1/2 hours.
After Sri Lanka resumed at 299 for seven after lunch, Rangana Herath retired after getting hit by the ball in the abdomen and did not return to bat.
Dilruwan Perera was out for 16 when he lofted a Holland delivery to Lyon at long-off. Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc finished with five for 63, his third five-wicket haul in the series.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to bat first on the first morning Saturday but his decision threatened to backfire when the top order collapsed.
Sri Lanka leads the three-match series 2-0 and look for a rare 3-0 whitewash. A win is crucial for Australia to remain in contention to retain its No.1 test ranking.