Having dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne off the last ball of day two, Pat Cummins blasted out three Sri Lanka batsmen in his opening spell on day three, before Jhye Richardson also claimed a wicket in the penultimate over before tea. All told, Sri Lanka have now lost five, and are struggling even make Australia bat again – still 105 runs behind.
At the break, the visitors had the newly-arrived Niroshan Dickwella at the crease, alongside opener Lahiru Thirimanne, who had limped to 31 off 94 balls. At no stage in this innings has any Sri Lanka batsman appeared at ease. Only a single boundary has been struck in 32 overs so far, and even that was an edge off Thirimanne’s bat late on day two, which had fallen just short of the slips.
Cummins was almost immediately impressive in his seven-over spell to start the day. The second ball, he got one to climb steeply off a good length at Dinesh Chandimal – the ball going on to take the shoulder of the bat then fly aerially towards gully, where Kurtis Patterson completed a comfortable overhead catch. Counting his wicket off the last ball on Friday, Cummins had now dismissed Sri Lanka’s two most-experienced batsmen in the space of three balls, and he would soon claim the third key wicket as well. Pitching one up to Kusal Mendis, Cummins enticed an off drive, moved the ball away, and had Mendis caught at slip for 1. Sri Lanka had slipped from 17 for no loss late on day two, to 19 for 3 very early on the third day.
His third wicket of the morning – and fourth overall – took a little longer to come. Thirimanne was dogged, if not quite resolute, and for a while it appeared as if Roshen Silva would join Thirimanne in a long resistance, as they both largely sought only to play the balls headed for the stumps. In his sixth consecutive over, however, Cummins succeeded in drawing another loose drive, this time from Silva. Having raised a big lbw appeal two balls earlier, Cummins had Silva nicking off to second slip, where Joe Burns took his second catch of the morning.
That Thirimanne survived the first session was partly down to good fortune – he played-and-missed repeatedly, especially when attempting big drives through the offside. He was also given out lbw off Nathan Lyon on 16 but successfully overturned that decision, after projections showed the ball to be passing over the stumps.
De Silva perhaps seemed even less at ease than his partner, frequently failing to make contact when he attempted expansive strokes, and was beautifully set-up by Richardson as tea approached. With the field set for short bowling, Richardson went wide of the crease and fired in a full delivery. De Silva missed with an attempted flick to the off side, and instead had his off stump rattled.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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