Sri Lanka reached 65-2 after being set a team-record 393-run target to win the series-opening cricket Test against Australia in Hobart.
The touring team lost opening batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dimuth Karunaratne in the final session on day four after fighting back to dismiss Australia for 278 in its second innings. Kumar Sangakkara was 18 not out at stumps, with Mahela Jayawardene on 5.
David Warner and Ed Cowan earlier hit half-centuries for Australia in a 132-run opening stand and captain Michael Clarke blasted 57 off 46 balls before retiring hurt with a right hamstring injury. Clarke, the leading run-scorer in elite Tests this year, returned to field at slip and dropped Sangakkara off Nathan Lyon’s bowling with the batsman on 3.
Clarke will have scans on his hamstring tonight with the results expected sometime tomorrow, Cricket Australia said.
Sri Lanka’s previous biggest fourth-innings total to win a Test was 352-9 against South Africa in Colombo six years ago. The highest successful run chase in Hobart is Australia’s 369-6 against Pakistan in 1999.
Spin bowler Rangana Herath took five wickets today to help restrict Australia’s lead and move atop the 2012 Test wicket-takers’ list with 60 dismissals. Herath trapped Ben Hilfenhaus leg-before-wicket without scoring to end the Australian innings and send the teams to the tea interval.
Sri Lanka then lost two wickets in the remaining 37 overs as all-rounder Shane Watson had Dilshan caught behind for 11 with his first delivery and fast bowler Mitchell Starc removed Karunaratne for 30 with a yorker.
Australia, which has won eight of its 10 previous home Test matches against Sri Lanka, is a bowler short as it tries to get the 10 wickets needed for victory after Hilfenhaus picked up a side strain on day three.
The Australians, who resumed at 27-0 this morning after dismissing the Sri Lanka for 336 yesterday, made 450-5 declared batting first.
The teams are also scheduled to play matches in Melbourne and Sydney.