sport

Australia in winning position

Australia need another eight wickets to seal a win on the final day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.

The tourists face a battle to force a draw as they closed on 65 for two after being set a victory target of 393 on day four, with veteran pair Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene having to keep Australia at bay in the final session.

Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Tillakaratne Dilshan were dismissed fairly cheaply but Sangakkara made 18 from 88 balls while captain Jayawardene was equally watchful with just five from 37 deliveries.

Any thoughts of a Sri Lanka victory were thought to be slim when their opponents were all out for 278 midway through the day.

David Warner top-scored with 68 while opening partner Ed Cowan and captain Michael Clarke also contributed half-centuries.

They might have been able to extend that advantage had Clarke been able to come back out following the dismissal of the also-ailing Ben Hilfenhaus, but although Mike Hussey briefly hung around in the middle, he soon got the signal to follow Hilfenhaus off with Clarke unable to resume.

He had earlier retired hurt on 57 - breaking a potentially key partnership with Hussey - with an apparent hamstring injury although the 31-year-old was able to field.

Together, he and Hussey had been able to stop the rot after Sri Lanka claimed quick wickets early in the afternoon session, having made a long-awaited breakthrough before the interval.

The morning had been dominated by Australia openers Warner and Cowan, who took their overnight 27 without loss on to 132 before Warner - who had played some fine attacking shots to make 68 - toe-edged a Rangana Herath carrom ball behind.

Three overs later, and with only eight runs added to the score, Cowan went for 56, bowled by a Chanaka Welegedara delivery that cut in to sneak between bat and pad.

After lunch, Prasanna Jayawardene stumped Shane Watson off Herath (five for 96) for just five, when the batsman's back leg slid out of the crease, and soon after Phil Hughes went for 16, bowled between bat and pad by Shaminga Eranga.

Australia were 181 for five when Matthew Wade was caught at long-on off Herath for 11.

Clarke and Hussey steadied the ship with a partnership worth 57 before Clarke's injury but though Hussey immediately smashed a six, Australia's resistance would soon waver with the tail exposed.

Peter Siddle (four) was caught behind off Welegedara, and four balls later Mitchell Starc went lbw for five off the same bowler.

Nathan Lyon (11) was bowled by Herath, who claimed his five-for when Hilfenhaus, battling a side injury, was trapped in front for a duck to leave Hussey stranded on 31 not out.

Sri Lanka's decent start was undone when first-innings centurion Dilshan edged Watson's first ball behind to wicketkeeper Wade having made just 11 this time around.

Sangakkara was given a life when he was dropped by Clarke at slip off Lyon but Karunaratne was soon on his way back to the pavilion after being cleaned up by a superb yorker from Starc.

That left Sangakkara and Jayawardene, so often Sri Lanka's saviours, to dig in for the final 13 overs of the day, something the pair may have to do for a long spell tomorrow to give the tourists any chance of avoiding defeat.