Australia’s bowlers ripped through Sri Lanka’s brittle batting order to dismiss the home side for 117 on an eventful first day of the opening Test at Pallekele on Tuesday that also saw the visitors lose their openers for just seven runs.
Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed three wickets apiece, while Mitchell Starc and Steve O’Keefe picked up two each as the hosts were shot out shortly after lunch.
Debutant all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva (24) was the top scorer for Sri Lanka, who have lost their last two Test series in New Zealand and England.
Australia’s innings also got off to a shaky start as they lost David Warner and Joe Burns inside the first four overs before captain Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja calmed things down with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 59 runs.
Smith, the world’s leading Test batsman in the ICC rankings, was on 28 while Khawaja was on 25 at the tea interval with Australia rebuilding on 66-2.
Rain then washed away the entire final session of the opening day.
Earlier, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat on a dry pitch in the first match of the three-Test series.
Any hopes Mathews had of enjoying a strong start were shattered, however, when Australia pace duo Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc took full control with the new ball to reduce the hosts to 18-3 inside 10 overs.
Left-armer Starc, making his comeback after a long injury layoff, sent back Dimuth Karunaratne, with the opening batsman failing to get the umpire’s leg before wicket verdict overturned on review.
The 25-year-old Hazlewood, bowling an impeccable line and length, then dismissed Kusal Mendis and Kaushal Silva and returned for another spell before lunch to lure Dinesh Chandimal into an edge behind to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who was included alongside Lyon, was brought on in the ninth over by Smith and got his reward when he dismissed Mathews.
Lyon found a lot of turn from the surface and picked up his three wickets from just seven deliveries after lunch as Sri Lanka’s batsman appeared keen to return to the pavilion as quickly as they departed it.
Rangana Herath became Starc’s second victim and Australia’s ninth after Smith successfully overturned the umpire’s ‘not out’ decision for leg before on review.
O’Keefe finished off proceedings when he captured his second wicket of the innings with the removal of Nuwan Pradeep.
Injury-ravaged Sri Lanka, ranked seventh in the world, also handed a debut to left-arm slow bowler Lakshan Sandakan against the world’s top-ranked Test side.