Mike Hussey had the heartache of being run-out cheaply in his final Test, but his pain was nothing compared to Sri Lanka's after their failure to ask for a review of Michael Clarke's first delivery.

Clarke supplied one of the three half centuries made by Australia's top four batsmen that helped the hosts edge slightly ahead in the third Test at the SCG yesterday.

Australia will take a 48-run lead into the third day after reaching 6-342 last night, but will have to bat last on a deteriorating bone-dry SCG pitch that is already turning sharply and providing significant variations in bounce.

Promoted to No.6, Matthew Wade lived up to his new-found responsibility by scrapping to 47 not out, while Peter Siddle added a feisty unbeaten 16.

But Australia's position could have been worse had Mahela Jayawardene asked for a review after veteran spinner Rangana Herath struck Clarke in front first ball, with television replays showing the ball would have hit the stumps.

Clarke survived the lbw appeal and went on to make 50 to complement a blazing 85 from opener David Warner and an assured 87 from Phil Hughes.

Sri Lankan coach Graham Ford suggested Jayawardene was reluctant to use his last review after earlier using one unsuccessfully on Warner.

"They didn't review it and they should have and it could have been a very different game," Ford said.

"It was very hard for Mahela standing at slip to gauge if there was any bat involved."

Ford was pleased that his young team, including four forced changes after the drubbing in the second Test at the MCG last week, had fought back so valiantly.

Sri Lanka completed three splendid outfield catches and created two run-outs with outstanding fielding.

Opener Ed Cowan paid the price for dawdling at the start of a run early in the innings but Hussey's dismissal for 25, after Clarke called him through for a sharp single, was the result of a superb throw from cover.

"They (Sri Lankan players) know they are in the game and deserve to be after the spirit and fight they have shown," Ford said.

"They are aware it will be tough from here on, but we haven't been blown away and we certainly aren't in the situation we were in at the MCG."

Herath led the fight-back as he used all his guile to winkle out the top order and prove Australia to be susceptible to spin bowling.

Herath holds the key to Sri Lanka's prospects of winning their first Test in Australia, but they will need to establish a lead of 200 or more.

The Australian decision to use only five specialist batsmen appeared sound when three of the first four cruised to quality half centuries before perishing when it appeared they each had a century for the taking.

Hussey had an unfortunate second day of his final match.

A day after he claimed three catches, Hussey was welcomed to the middle with a massive ovation from the 26,460-strong crowd and a guard of honour from the Sri Lankans.

Hussey maintained his century average against Sri Lanka but his return at the SCG dropped below three figures when Dimuth Karunaratne threw down the stumps.

Wade had an eventful time as he battled hard to hold the middle order together. He had no more nerve-racking period than the 10 minutes he spent on 22.

He survived a review for a caught behind appeal when bowler Nuwan Pradeep overstepped the popping crease to be no-balled, was favoured by a review of his own after being given out caught at short leg off Herath, was twice dropped by Lahiru Thirimanne in the same position and twice struck him with savage blows that could have rebounded to the other close-in catchers.

Hughes conceded Herath could have a big bearing on the match.

"When he did come on, he bowled very well," Hughes said.

"Going forward in this game, he's going to come into the game in the second innings, no doubt."

Equally daunting for Australia, 288 is the highest successful run chase at the SCG, where pitches are difficult come days four and five.

"It will be tough, no doubt," Hughes said.

"But that's why we'd like to get as many as we can in this first innings, to put pressure on them.

"I think (Australia spinner) Nathan Lyon will come into the game in the second innings. Day three, four and five, it will be turning a fair bit, I'd say."

"They know they are in the game and deserve to be after the spirit and fight they have shown.""Sri Lankan coach *Graham Ford *

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West