HOBART, Australia, Nov 19 (Reuters) Sri Lanka have not given up hope of pulling off an extraordinary win in the second test against Australia after a late fightback today left them with a glimmer of hope heading into the final day.
The Sri Lankans seemed to have no chance of even contemplating victory after trailing by 296 runs on the first innings then asked to chase a world record total of 507 in the final innings.
But an unbeaten century by Kumar Sangakkara and a fighting 80 from Marvan Atapattu allowed them to reach 247 for three at stumps on day four, needing to bat through the last day to salvage a draw or score another 260 for a famous victory.
''You've got to be realistic that 507 is a massive ask but the direction in which we go to tomorrow is now basically up to us,'' Sangakkara told a news conference.
''If we can get through to lunch without losing a wicket and depending on the amount of runs we get then things get a lot clearer.
''I don't really want to be a soothsayer and say what will happen, but we always go into the middle with a lot of belief and we try as best.'' Sangakkara ended the day on 109 not out after making 57 in the first innings and has already proven his ability to bat for long periods after sharing a world record partnership of 624 runs with Mahela Jayawardene against South Africa last year.
JAYASURIYA KEY However, he said the key to Sri Lanka's chances of beating Australia probably lay with Sanath Jayasuriya, who finished the day unbeaten on 33.
''We just know that if he bats a session and a half that takes an enormous amount of pressure off the rest of the team,'' Sangakkara said.
''He's a guy who can just take attacks apart and games away single handedly.'' The Australian captain Ricky Ponting agreed that Sri Lanka's chances revolved around the partnership between Sangakkara and Jayasuriya but said he was still confident of winning.
''I think we're still right in the box seat,'' said Ponting, who made an unbeaten half-century in his team's shortened second innings.
''We all know Sri Lanka has got a long tail, so if we can break this partnership and get a couple of early breakthroughs we'll be right back in front of the game.'' Ponting said he still had no regrets about his decision not to enforce the follow-on after the first innings, saying there would be no excuses if his team failed to go on and win the match.
''If we're not good enough to win the game with 500 on the board and five sessions up our sleeve, then it wouldn't matter how long we had,'' he said.
''Sri Lanka played very well today and there's no use turning up tomorrow if they don't think they can win.
''But it's up to us now, starting in the morning. We've done that well so far in the series.'' REUTERS TB KP1532