Colombo: Skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan finally struck form with a fluent 83 as Sri Lanka surpassed Australia's 316 in the third and final cricket Test in Colombo on Sunday.
The hosts, seeking a series-levelling win, moved to 337-5 by tea on the third day at the Sinhalese Sports Club, a lead of 21 runs with five wickets in hand.
Dilshan, who had contributed just 56 runs in the previous four innings of the series, hammered 14 boundaries before he was caught behind off Trent Copeland just before tea.
Vice-captain Angelo Mathews returned unbeaten on 42, having shared a fifth-wicket stand of 121 with his skipper after Australia threatened to take charge in the morning session.
Sri Lanka, who resumed at the overnight score of 166-2, lost Mahela Jayawardene for 51 and Kumar Sangakkara for 79 in his 100th Test appearance in the morning session.
The star pair added 101 for the third wicket as Sri Lanka moved to a commanding 198-2 within the first 45 minutes. The duo, whose stand of 624 against South Africa at the same venue in 2006 is a world record for any wicket, appeared to have settled in for the long haul when Australia earned a lucky break.
Jayawardene batted aggressively in the morning session to hit four boundaries but chased a wide ball from Shane Watson and edged a catch to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.
Jayawardene, who has hit 10 Test hundreds at the SSC, managed only a half-century this time.
Dilshan, an opening batsman who demoted himself to number five for this match, had a harrowing start to his innings. He left the first delivery from Watson, which dipped in dangerously close to the off-stump and had yet to get off the mark when a miscued shot off Watson fell just short of a diving Shaun Marsh at mid-on.
Dilshan opened his account with a flick off Mitchell Johnson for a boundary, which also brought up Sri Lanka's 200. Australia claimed the second new ball after 81 overs and met with immediate success when Peter Siddle dismissed a well-set Sangakkara with the fourth delivery.
Sangakkara smashed the first ball to the cover fence, but edged a rising ball later in the same over to Haddin.
Dilshan and Mathews dug in on either side of lunch to hand Sri Lanka the first innings lead for the only time in the series.
Australia are ahead 1-0 in the series, having won the first Test in Galle by 125 runs.