Dilshan ton steadies Sri Lanka

Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a brilliant century to help Sri Lanka reach 187/4 at lunch.

Cricket ball. Picture: Sxc.hu.

HOBART - Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a brilliant century as Sri Lanka batted through the third morning of the first test without loss to reach 187 for four at lunch on Sunday in pursuit of Australia's 450 for five declared.

Australia's frustration at being able to make further inroads into the Sri Lanka batting line-up after reducing the tourists to 87-4 on day two was further compounded by what could be a match-ending injury to paceman Ben Hilfenhaus.

The Hobart skies opened soon after Dilshan reached the century and an early lunch was taken with the opener 103 not out having built a 100-run partnership with Angelo Mathews (45).

Hilfenhaus, recalled after being rested for the last test against South Africa, bowled two balls of the eighth over of the day before pulling up with a side strain.

Cricket Australia confirmed the big Tasmanian had been taken to hospital for scans on the injury. Australia have already lost young quicks Pat Cummins and James Pattinson to injury for the season.

Dilshan nervously spent half an hour in the nineties as he edged run-by-run towards his goal before finally graduating to his 15th test century with a four to third man off Peter Siddle.

The 36-year-old's delight at completing his first century in Australia was made clear to everyone in the ground by the huge yelp he emitted as he skipped down the wicket in celebration.

The hundred came off 148 balls and included 16 fours but its importance to his country in the context of the first match of the three-test was hard to overstate.

Dilshan watched on Saturday afternoon as Australia rammed home their declaration by removing key batsmen Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera cheaply.

The fall of Samaraweera's wicket brought up stumps, leaving the tourists, who have never won a test in Australia, facing an uphill task to save the match over the last three days.