Clarke called his men back to the pavilion when on 450 for five and he was left to reflect on a good decision, with Sri Lanka closing the day on 87 for four - some 363 runs adrift - with Nathan Lyon picking up the wicket of Thilan Samaraweera with the last ball of the day.
Were it not for an unbeaten 50 from Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene`s men would have been in deeper trouble. Australia shared the wickets around, with Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson all taking one each, and all after Mike Hussey had completed his third century in four matches for Australia.
On a rain-affected day Hussey chivvied his way to 115 before Clarke beckoned him in, with Matthew Wade unbeaten at the other end on 68. Hussey did have some fortune on Saturday, with his 19th Test hundred coming after Angelo Matthews shelled him on the boundary and the balling rolling away for four.
Having survived, he saw the funny side and cracked Shamida Eranga for six before heading off to change ahead of a session in the field. Before that, the only Australian wicket to fall was that of Clarke, with the skipper caught in the slips by Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Eranga.
At that time, Australia had added just five to their overnight 299 for four, but with Wade joining Hussey for a 146-run stand, they quickly put to bed any thoughts of not setting a competitive score. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, though, they were unable to enjoy batting on the same wicket and ended the day in some bother.
Dimuth Karunaratne was the first to depart, getting cramped up by a Hilfenhaus away-swinger and edging one behind to Wade with the score on 25. Elder statesman Sangakkara was the next to go, chasing a wide one from Siddle and finding the hands of Hussey, who took a smart catch in the gully.
Sri Lanka really needed Jayawardene to hang around and he suggested he might as he tucked away two successive fours off Mitchell Starc, but as the score ticked on to 70 he lost his wicket.
Watson rapped him on the knee-roll of his pad and to the naked eye it looked out and was duly given as so. Perhaps out of desperation he reviewed it, but was soon walking off.
Dilshan at least went along nicely, making 50 off 82 balls, but only when a miscued pull off Watson fell safe, although he was left without a partner at the end, Samaraweera failing to take his bat into day three as he misread a slider from Lyon and feathered one to Wade.
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- Mike Hussey
- Shane Watson
- Ben Hilfenhaus