Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan edged nearer Courtney Walsh's world record of 519 Test wickets yesterday.
Warne took two wickets for 115 in 36 overs to move to 513, two ahead of his Sri Lankan spin rival who took one late on.
The battle formed an intriguing sub-plot to a well-contested third day of the third Test between the two countries in the three-match series, which Australia have already won.
The Sri Lanka captain, Hashan Tillakaratne, hit a battling, unbeaten 74 to steer his team, who started on 239 for 2, to a slim, six-run first-innings lead. They were bowled out for 407 shortly after tea. Chaminda Vaas then broke through, trapping Matthew Hayden lbw for 28, to end a 40-run opening stand with Justin Langer. Muralitharan then accounted for Gillespie for his 511th Test wicket. Australia closed the day on 80 for 3, Langer finishing on 29 not out.
Langer was earlier reported by the umpires for bringing the game into disrepute after dislodging a bail with his hand during Tillakaratne's innings. The 33-year-old was cleared at a disciplinary inquiry later.
Tillakaratne, under pressure after a batting slump and losing record as captain, came to Sri Lanka's rescue after the loss of three early wickets in the morning. The 36-year-old added 71 for the sixth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera (41) and 51 with Vaas (24) for the seventh wicket. It was his first Test 50 in 13 innings.
* Mathew Sinclair hit 74 to help New Zealand reach 248 for 6 at the close of play on the first day of the third Test against South Africa yesterday.