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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 11:49 GMT
Sri Lanka face tough target
3rd Test, Colombo, day four (close):
Australia 401& 375; Sri Lanka 407 & 18-0

Justin Langer
Katich congratulates Langer on reaching three figures

Justin Langer made his 18th Test century to give Australia a chance of a 3-0 series whitewash in Sri Lanka.

Langer scored 166 despite an attack of cramp during the afternoon session on day four in Colombo, hitting two sixes and 13 fours.

Australia were finally all out for 375 and Sri Lanka were 18-0 at the close, requiring another 352 for victory.

Rangana Herath took 4-92 for the home side and Muttiah Muralitharan claimed 3-93 to reach 513 Test wickets.

It put him level with Shane Warne, who needs seven wickets in Sri Lanka's second innings to win the race to beat Courtney's Walsh's world record total of 519.

Australia were in trouble at 98-5, just 92 runs ahead, after Herath and Muralitharan removed Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann cheaply at the start of play.

But Langer's concentration was impregnable and he reached his first fifty of the series by hoisting Herath for six over long-on and used the sweep shot to good effect to nullify the threat of Muralitharan.

It was an excellent innings by a player who faced a disciplinary inquiry the previous evening when he was cleared of a disrepute charge.

Langer suffered an attack of cramp soon after lunch and sent for a runner, Matthew Hayden, after hitting the next delivery for his second six.

His partnership with Katich was worth 218 when he chopped a ball from left-armer Chaminda Vaas onto his stumps as he tried to cut.

It was then a question of whether Katich could reach three figures for the second time in a Test, but it was not to be as he played across the line to Muralitharan and was lbw.

Warne and Michael Kasprowicz did not last long but Adam Gilchrist made 31 off 41 balls before the innings came to an end when last man Brad Williams gave a return catch to Herath.

The left-arm spinner's figures were the best of his Test career, which has been revived after an absence of almost four years.

The Sri Lanka openers safely negotiated five overs before the close, the last one bowled by Warne, with Sanath Jayasuriya 13 not out and Marvan Atapattu on five.

The odds are against them on the final day, however, as their highest fourth innings total to win a Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club was 326-5 against Zimbabwe seven years ago.

Sri Lanka: Hashan Tillakaratne (captain), Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa, Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Simon Katich, Darren Lehmann, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie, Brad Williams.

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