Sangakkara, Jayawardene stifle Australia

Australia

The old guard of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene suppressed Australia's bid for a series win with an unbeaten 95-run stand to carry Sri Lanka to 223 for two at stumps on day four.

The old guard of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene suppressed Australia's bid for a series win with an unbeaten 95-run stand to carry Sri Lanka to 223 for two at stumps on day four to the second Test on Sunday.

With intermittent rain and poor light having a say across the first three days in Pallekele, Michael Clarke was wise in his decision to declare overnight. 411 for seven in reply to the hosts' 174 all out in their first dig for a 237-run lead left home openers Tharanaga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan with plenty of work to do.

They stood tall for their 81-run stand and had the visiting seam attack struggling on a pitch proving progressively easier to bat on.

Ryan Harris, though, struck just before the lunch break to get rid of Dilshan. Not for the first time in the series and probably not the last, the right-hander holed out to the slip cordon with a wild slash outside his off-stump, with a brief rain delay bringing the downfall of the batsman's initial patience.

Tharanga Paranavitana stood firm alongside Kumar Sangakkara through to lunch, leaving the Aussies with just one victim in the bag and rather frustrated at the break.

The second and third session brought much of the stifling same for Michael Clarke's men, who were at least able to steal the scalp of Paranavitana.

Shortly after moving to the seventh half-century of his Test career, the left-hander fell to a dodgy catch by Brad Haddin off the bowling of Mike Hussey. The part-time seamer thought nothing of the shout for caught-behind, but Clarke opted for a review regardless. Deemed out for 55 on the back of a questionable call from the third umpire, the opener's departure was clouded by questionable judgment as television replays showed no clear indication of an edge.

That left Sangakkara (69 not out) and his favoured batting partner Mahela Jayawardene (38 not out), who have so often in the past dragged their team from the doldrums, to dig in. Their partnership, though void of much entertainment, did the trick for Sri Lanka, who enjoyed a third session truncated by bad light.

Clarke changed his bowlers often during their alliance, but neither seamer nor spinner could undo the veterans' resilience. Although there was the odd marginal chance to the close-in fielders, off Nathan Lyon's turn particularly, there was no real cause for alarm in the Sri Lankan camp.

With a lead of just 14, the possibility of more rain and the inevitability of bad light set to interfere on day five, Australia seem set to head into the third and final Test with a one-nil lead that could have been an indomitable two-zip had the elements and Pallekele pitch not conspired against them.

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