Sri Lankan bowlers suffer double indignity

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Sri Lanka 251 and 13-0 Australia 617-5 dec

Sri Lanka, disgraced after being found guilty of ball tampering, face a massive struggle to save the first Test in Perth as records tumbled during an Australian run spree yesterday.

The tourists, warned by Graham Dowling, the match referee, on Saturday because the ball's condition was altered, were hammered for 617 for 5 before Australia declared with a first innings lead of 366. Sri Lanka were 13 without loss at the close on the third day, which featured Michael Slater advancing to 219, Mark Waugh's 111 and 96 by Ricky Ponting on his Test debut.

It was a day of toil in the field for Sri Lanka as they tried to revive their fortunes after the umpires ruled they had altered the condition of the ball during the 17th over on the second day. Dowling, a former New Zealand captain, took no further action after his warning, but said the umpires would take appropriate action if there was any further attempt to tamper with the ball.

"The International Cricket Council does not condone such practices, and I have made this abundantly clear to the Sri Lankan team management, with whom I have met since close of play," Dowling said. It was the first instance of a team being officially found guilty of ball tampering during a Test.

Dowling's warning surprised Slater, who faced the most deliveries against the altered ball. He said he thought nothing out of the ordinary had occurred when the umpires first took action. "It was a big surprise," Slater said. "I thought it was a simple case of the ball going out of shape."

The umpires had not replaced the ball after the tampering incident, but Sri Lanka took the second new ball at the start of the day. Slater, who resumed on 189, added 30 more to make his highest first-class score, a superb innings lasting seven-and-a-half hours and containing five sixes and 15 fours.

Slater fell to a return catch by the off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, ending a typically aggressive and entertaining display of strokeplay that established a new record for the ground, eclipsing David Boon's 200 against New Zealand in the 1989-90 season. Waugh maintained the momentum by reaching his 10th Test century after lunch. He was out for 111 when he edged a wide delivery from Chaminda Vaas to wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana.

Australia's total beat their previous record for a Test against Sri Lanka of 514 for 4 declared at Kandy in the 1982-83 season.

(Third day of five; Sri Lanka won toss)

SRI LANKA - First innings 251 (R S Kaluwitharana 50; G D McGrath 4-81).

AUSTRALIA - First innings

(Overnight 358 for 2)

M Slater c and b Muralitharan 219

M E Waugh c Kaluwitharana b Vaas 111

R T Ponting lbw b Vaas 96

S G Law not out 54

Extras (b4, lb6, nb18) 28

Total (for 5 declared) 617

Fall (cont): 3-422 4-496 5-617

Did not bat: I A Healy, B P Julian, S K Warne, C J McDermott, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Wickremasinghe 31-3-123-0 (nb7);Vaas 31-5-103-2 (nb3); Muralitharan 54-3-224-2 (nb4); Dharmasena 31-5-84-0; De Silva 18-1-42-1 (nb4);Hathurusinghe 9-3-31-0.

SRI LANKA - Second innings

R S Mahanama not out 2

C M Hathurusinghe not out 7

Extras (lb1, nb3) 4

Total (for 0) 13

To bat: A P Gurusinha, P A De Silva, *A Ranatunga, H P Tillekeratne, R S Kaluwitharana, H D P K Dharmasena, W P U J C C Vaas, G P Wickremasinghe, M Muralitharan.

Bowling: McDermott 1-0-7-0 (nb-3); McGrath 2-1-4-0; Warne 1-0-1-0.

Umpires: P Parker and Khizer Hayat (Pakistan).