Hilfenhaus hurt, Sri Lanka hit back

Sportal December 16, 2012, 12:56 pm
Ben Hilfenhaus

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Australia's depleted bowling brigade was forced to toil hard during an opening session that saw Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan race to his 15th Test ton and Angelo Mathews counter-punch expertly on day three of the Hobart Test.

When rain swept across the ground at midday, forcing an early lunch, Sri Lanka had moved to 4-187 with Dilshan unbeaten on 103 and Mathews on 43.

Local paceman Ben Hilfenhaus left the field midway through an extended morning session, Cricket Australia confirming he was taken from the ground for scans on an injured left-side an all-too-familiar scenario for Australian quicks in recent times.

But the Sri Lankan pair had looked completely unhindered in adding an even hundred before the break, yet further proof the feared 'green monster' of Blundstone Arena had been replaced by a rather more timid beast for the Test.

Sri Lanka had resumed with its first innings in a perilous condition at 4-87 after a slew of late wickets on Saturday, but Dilshan (103 not out) and Mathews (45 not out) added 70 runs before drinks and were rarely troubled by an Australian attack unable to extract much in the way of bounce or sideways movement from a docile wicket.

When a heavy shower swept across the ground and sent players scurrying for cover, Sri Lanka were well on the way to avoiding the prospect of following on having reached 4-187, needing just 64 more runs to pass the 251-run follow-on target.

Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford had admitted after day two that Michael Clarke's adventurous declaration with Australia in command at 5-450 had caught his side by surprise but he must have been thrilled with the nature of Sunday morning's unbroken 100-run partnership.

Dilshan laboured somewhat uncharacteristically as he neared his milestone, approaching triple figures with a string of singles before dabbing Peter Siddle (1-41) to backward point for his 18th boundary, registering both his ton and the invaluable century stand with Mathews.

It was his second consecutive ton at Hobart the previous one a smash and grab 160 not out in a one-day international against India in February.

Earlier in the session, Dilshan had continued to punch away at anything short or wide and found the perfect foil in captain-in-waiting Mathews who looked comfortable from the time he took strike to Nathan Lyon, the Australian off-spinner commencing proceedings having dismissed Thilan Samaraweera in the final over on day two.

Clarke rotated his bowlers through short spells, probing for a breakthrough but it was all to no avail as momentum shifted back towards stalemate on a third consecutive rain-affected day.

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