Dinesh Chandimal has all but extinguished Australia’s hopes of claiming a 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka, smashing a maiden double-century as part of a record score for the hosts.
Chandimal exploded in a brutal post-lunch session on day four, taking the second Test away from Australia with his unbeaten 206 helping Sri Lanka to 554 and a lead of 190 runs.
Chandimal’s innings was the highest ever by a Sri Lankan against Australia, while the hosts’ total is also the biggest in their history against the tourists.
All this, a week after being bowled out twice inside 82 overs in the first Test in Galle.
In the space of two overs on Monday, Chandimal three times hit Mitchell Starc back over his head for six, including one shot that landed on the road behind the ground.
He also cut Pat Cummins for another six over point after earlier sweeping Nathan Lyon with great effect earlier in the day.
Every run would have stung Australia greatly, after they missed the opportunity to remove the former captain on 30 when he edged a ball off Starc on day three.
Given not out on field by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, Australia’s inability to review after previously burning all three of their referrals ultimately cost the tourists more than 170 runs.
It has also meant Australia now have next to no chance of winning the Test, and will be forced into trying to play out the final day-and-a-half to hold on for a draw and a 1-0 series win.
Desperate for early wickets to stay in the hunt, Australia struggled to threaten in the morning session on day four before Chandimal’s incredible hitting after lunch.
Starc (4-89) enjoyed some of the few successes of the day, swinging the the first delivery with the third new ball back into Ramesh Mendis’ toe on 29.
He also clean bowled Prabath Jayasuriya for a duck when he knocked out his off stump, after Cummins (1-95) had earlier done likewise to fellow debutant Maheesh Theekshana for 10.
But Chandimal was able to add 49 for the last wicket with Kasun Rajitha, before Mitchell Swepson (2-103) was finally able to get the tailender lbw.
Lyon was made to toil the hardest, with his 64 overs the most he has bowled at any point in his career while going for 2-194 with two missed stumpings and one missed review chance off his bowling.
Australia must at least draw in Galle to win the series and stay atop the World Test Championship, otherwise they will be overtaken by South Africa for No.1 spot.