Australia was on the verge of a four-day victory in the final Test and a series clean sweep after a Sri Lankan batting collapse on the third day at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

For a time it looked as if Sri Lanka, well beaten in Hobart and Melbourne, could make a contest of it as Dimuth Karunaratne and skipper Mahela Jayawardene almost wiped out the 138-run innings deficit with a century stand before wickets tumbled.

At the close, Sri Lanka was a shaky 225 for seven and leading by 87 runs with two days left with Dinesh Chandimal and Rangana Herath at the crease.

After lunch, opener Tillakaratne Dilshan failed for the fifth time since his 147 in the first Hobart Test when he was caught centimetres from the ground by Phil Hughes at third slip off Johnson in the seventh over.

Jayawardene then watched four batting partners depart as he tried to keep his team’s innings together, but upon his dismissal just inside the final hour it was all downhill for Sri Lanka. Karunaratne edged Jackson Bird to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for 85 to end a 108-run stand with Jayawardene in the 34th over when Sri Lanka was still trailing by six runs.

First innings top-scorer Lahiru Thirimanne survived a leg before wicket review before he fell hooking Mitchell Johnson to Bird. Thilan Samaraweera completed a wretched series when he went after spinner Nathan Lyon and skied to long-on where Mike Hussey took the catch to a huge roar from the home crowd celebrating the Australian veteran’s farewell Test. A dreadful mix-up led to Angelo Mathews being run out for 16 after he failed to beat the throw from David Warner.

Jayawardene was out four balls later ending his 200-minute resistance when he edged Peter Siddle to Michael Clarke at first slip and the tourists had tumbled to 178 for six and only a lead of 40.

In the morning session Wade scored a thrilling unbeaten century as Australia added 90 more runs before declaring to lead Sri Lanka by 138 runs. — AFP

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