Galle: Ireland were made to toil hard by Sri Lankan batters on day three of the second Test at Galle International Stadium, here on Wednesday as captain Dimuth Karunaratne hit his 16th Test century while Nishan Madushka notched up his maiden hundred in the longest format of the game.
At stumps on day three, Sri Lanka were trailing Ireland by 135 runs, having reached 357/1 as rain brought early finish to the play. Though the hosts lost Karunaratne's wicket, Madushka remained unbeaten on 149 while Kusal Mendis was unconquered at 83, with Ireland all-rounder Curtis Campher taking the only wicket to fall on day three.
Starting the day from 81/0 and trailing by 411 runs, Karunaratne led the early charge, hitting his first boundary in aggressive style, slashing Campher's first ball of the day hard over the cordon for four, and there was little let-up thereafter.
His half-century came up off 61 balls, and his century took another 54 balls to arrive. The left-handed batter equalled the record for most Test hundreds as an opener among Sri Lankan players. He equalled Marvan Atapattu's record of 16 Test tons with his century.
Besides Karunaratne and Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya (13 hundreds as an opener) is the only Sri Lankan opener with more than ten Test hundreds. Madushka, his partner in a mammoth 228-run partnership, became the 19th Sri Lankan opener to notch up a Test hundred which came off 159 balls.
Campher finally reaped the rewards of persistence as he extracted some extra bounce from the placid surface, beating Karunaratne's pull and striking the home skipper on the helmet. Karunaratne passed the requisite concussion test, but fell two balls later, with another Campher bouncer taking the top edge and flying to Matthew Humphreys at fine leg.
The dismissal brought lunch but runs continued to flow after the interval. Mendis picked up where his captain had left off, hitting three boundaries in the first over of the afternoon session. There was some pressure built in a five-over stretch containing two maidens and conceding just nine runs, but Sri Lanka were able to gather steam once more.
There were further half-chances in the game. White found Madushka's inside edge before a leading edge fell just short of mid-wicket, while Mendis survived a close run-out chance, Harry Tector aiming for the striker's stumps and nailing a direct hit, but replays showing the batter was just in.
A significant opportunity arrived in the over before drinks, with Madushka edging Andy McBrine - Ireland's most economical bowler - to Andrew Balbirnie at slip, but the Ireland captain couldn't cling on to a difficult chance.
That reprieve kick-started a counterattack from Mendis. He pulled White for his first six in the following over, before notching up a 59-ball half-century with a glide through the off-side in the next over.
Soon after, he smashed debutant Humphreys for three consecutive sixes as Madushka continued to tick along, ending the day on 149 before bad light and then a thunderstorm brought an early end to proceedings.