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Sri Lanka extend lead after Mendis falls for 176

(Reuters) - Kusal Mendis fell after a marathon 176 as Sri Lanka stretched their lead to 228 runs with three wickets in hand when rain forced an early lunch on day four of the first test against Australia on Friday.

Sri Lanka were 314-7 at the interval with Dilruwan Perera (12) and Rangana Herath (17) in the middle when rain stopped play at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Persistent rain has already washed out the final sessions of the first two days of the test and allowed only 10 overs to be bowled after tea on Thursday.

There was no respite on the penultimate day either, as steady drizzle delayed the start by an hour and allowed only 7.3 overs in the first session.

Mendis, who scored his maiden test century in a match where no other batsman has managed a fifty, could add only seven runs to his overnight score before poking at a Mitchell Starc delivery to be caught behind.

It was a tame end to the 21-year-old right-hander's 254-ball knock that included 21 boundaries and a six.

Sri Lanka could have been in further trouble but Herath successfully reviewed a leg-before decision after he had been hit on the pad by a good length delivery from Josh Hazlewood that was shown in replays to have pitched outside his leg stump.

Australia are without their hamstrung left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe, who hobbled off the ground on Thursday and is set to miss the rest of the three-test series.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien)

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