Ireland up against it in Galle after Sri Lanka pile on runs
and live on Freeview channel 276
For just the third time in Test history each of the top four raised their bats for a century – Dimuth Karunaratne making 115 on the third day, fellow opener Nishan Madushka going on to 205, Kusal Mendis top-scoring with 245 and Angelo Mathews last over the line with 100 not out before the declaration.
Ireland, having seen their highest Test score of 492 put firmly in perspective over the course of 151 joyless overs in the field, were then reduced to 54 for two before the close.
With a 158-run deficit heading into the final three sessions, they now have a fight on their hands to avoid what had appeared a highly unlikely defeat after the first two days.
There were some bruising bowling figures, with Ben White wicketless for 203 and Curtis Campher settling on one for 101, while lead spinner Andy McBrine laboured through a marathon stint of 57 overs for his return of one for 191.
Sri Lanka had started in a controlling position of 357 for one and were almost level by lunch, adding 132 without loss.
Mendis came within six runs of doubling his overnight score of 83 as he unloaded a flurry of sixes and Madushka converted his existing hundred into a double.
An already weary Ireland finally picked up their second wicket early in the afternoon session, McBrine hitting Madushka in front with one that just pitched in line. It needed a DRS review from captain Andy Balbirnie, but after a partnership spanning 399 balls and 268 runs he did not let it pass.
The fall of wicket did not help the wider cause much, Mendis continuing his barrage as he broke the Sri Lankan record for most sixes in an innings by heaving Campher over midwicket. That was his ninth and there were two more to come, to go with 18 fours, in a dominant outing.
Mathews needed no invitation to put his foot down and another century stand followed as Ireland conceded another 133 runs from just 150 deliveries.
Mendis eventually saw his charge ended in fitting fashion, swinging for the stands against Graham Hume only to be well held by Matthew Humphreys at long-on.
At 629 for three celebrations were understandably muted and there was a dose of bad luck for new man Dinesh Chandimal, who was unable to cash in on the run-fest when an injured shoulder forced him to retire hurt.
Mathews eased to three figures in 114 balls to bring forward the declaration, putting the onus back on the tourists late in the day.
Off-spinner Ramesh Mendis duly bowled James McCollom off the glove in the fifth over before Peter Moor was smartly caught at short cover off Prabath Jayasuriya.