Cricket-Sri Lanka struggling to avoid follow-on

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HOBART, Australia, Nov 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka were struggling to avoid the follow-on in the second test against Australia after their batting collapsed on the third day at Bellerive Oval today.

The tourists lost three wickets before lunch then five in the middle session to slump to 208 for eight at tea, still needing another 135 runs to make Australia bat again after they declared their first innings on 542 for five.

Fast bowler Brett Lee captured three wickets and leg spinner Stuart MacGill two while pacemen Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark took one each and Farveez Maharoof was run out, leaving the Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene unbeaten on 69 at tea with Lasith Malinga yet to score.

Kumar Sangakkara was the only other Sri Lankan batsmen to offer any real resistance, surviving two chances before falling to a rash shot in the second last over before lunch for 57.

Sri Lanka, who were beaten by an innings and 40 runs in last week's first test in Brisbane, started the day on 30-0 and hoping to make the most of a flat pitch but were immediately in trouble when they lost both their openers in the first hour.

Lee knocked Michael Vandort's middle stump out of the ground with a yorker that brushed his pads when he was on 14 then removed Marvan Atapattu for 25 when he got a thick edge and Michael Clarke held a juggling catch at gully.

Lee was unlucky not to claim Sangakkara's wicket cheaply after he was given the benefit of the doubt on a low-catch off Michael Hussey at gully then dropped by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

Sangakkara capitalised on his two chances to bring up his half-century with his ninth boundary only to throw his wicket away when he fended a short ball from Johnson straight to Hussey at gully.

Jayawardene also had a let off on 14 when he was almost run out by Lee after a mix up with Sangakkara but regained his composure, batting for almost four hours while the wickets tumbled around him.

Sanath Jayasuriya, who was dropped down the order from opener, was clean bowled by MacGill for three when he tried to sweep, then Chamara Silva was caught by Gilchrist when he nicked MacGill behind on four.

Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene then edged Clark to Gilchrist without scoring before Dilhara Fernando chased a wide ball off Lee and was caught by Gilchrist for two.

Sri Lanka's woes were compounded by the run out of Maharoof, who was batting with the aid of a runner after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot while bowling on the first day.

Maharoof made a gallant 19 despite his injury but was sent packing when his runner, Silva, set off on a suicidal single that ended with him being stranded at the same end as Jayawardene.

REUTERS TB KP1112

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