Sri Lanka lurch to 127-3 at lunch against Australia

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HOBART, Australia, Nov 18 (Reuters) Australia's fast bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson reduced Sri Lanka to 127 for three at lunch on the third day of the second test today.

Lee removed Michael Vandort for 14 in the sixth over of the day then Marvan Atapattu for 25 four overs later to leave the tourists reeling at 54-2 before Kumar Sangakkara and captain Mahela Jayawardene briefly steadied the innings with a partnership of 73.

Sangakkara survived two early let-offs to bring up a half-century but lost his wicket on 57 in the second last over before lunch, leaving Jayawardene unbeaten on 22 and Sanath Jayasuriya yet to score.

Sri Lanka, who were beaten by an innings and 40 runs in last week's first test in Brisbane, were still 415 runs behind Australia's 542-5 declared and need another 216 runs to make the home team bat again.

Sri Lanka started the day on 30-0 and hoping for a good start on a flat Bellerive Oval pitch but lost both their openers in the first hour to Lee.

The express paceman knocked Vandort's middle stump out of the ground with a 149kph yorker then removed Atapattu for 25 when he got a thick edge to an attempted drive and Michael Clarke held a juggling catch at gully.

Lee was unlucky not to add the wicket of Sangakkara, who edged two chances behind in a nervous start to his innings.

Mike Hussey claimed a low-catch at gully when Sangakkara was on four but the batsmen was given the benefit of the doubt when the decision was referred to the third umpire and the television replays proved inconclusive.

Sangakkara had even bigger let off on 13 when Lee again found the edge but Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist dropped a routine catch.

Sangakkara brought up his half-century with his ninth boundary but threw his wicket away just before lunch when he fended a short ball from Johnson straight to Hussey at gully to the relief of the Australians.

Jayawardene also had a let off on 14 when he called for a quick single from the non-strikers end but was immediately sent back by Sangakkara.

The skipper was still well short of his ground when Lee fielded the ball at mid-off and took aim at the stumps but his throw narrowly missed the target.

REUTERS DKS BST0803

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