Australia took two more Sri Lankan wickets in the second session of day one of the third Test at Sydney as the visitors reached 169 for four at Tea.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene (72) was looking solid, scoring a rather quick half-century — his first away from home since 2009 — and looked set to parry Sri Lanka by holding anchor at one end.
In a welcome return to form after fellow 10,000 Test runscorer Kumar Sangakkara's enforced absence with a fractured finger, Jayawardene led from the front for his embattled team after two heavy Test defeats in Hobart and Melbourne.
It was Jayawardene's first half-century in Tests outside Sri Lanka in 27 innings since a knock of 275 against India in Ahmedabad in November 2009.
Jayawardene brought up his 50 with a streaky edge that bounced in front of Mike Hussey at second slip and went to the boundary ropes at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
But he was out for 72 in the hour before tea, caught at first slip by Michael Clarke off left-armer Mitchell Starc in the 43rd over.
Starc had a few anxious moments when English umpire Nigel Llong first checked for an overstepping no-ball but replays showed that Starc's heel was just behind the popping crease before he dragged it forward and the dismissal was confirmed.
The Sri Lanka skipper batted for 154 minutes and faced 110 balls for his half-century laced with 12 boundaries and a straight hit six off spinner Nathan Lyon.
Thilan Samaraweera was the next man but he wasn’t to last long as he was trapped plumb in front by Peter Siddle (one for 35) to make it 167 for four.
Playing his last Test match, Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey, got a bowl before Tea amidst loud cheers from the SCG faithful. He bowled stumps-to-stumps for two overs, but could find that wicket everyone around the ground so fervently desired.
Sri Lanka went into the break at 169 for four with Lahiru Thirimanne (37 not out) and Angelo Mathews at the crease.
Earlier, Australia removed both Sri Lankan openers on the first morning after winning the toss and sending the tourists in to bat in the third and final Test in Sydney.
Skipper Clarke looked for a quick return on a bold decision to bowl after going into a Test with four quicks for the first time since the third Test against India in Perth a year ago.
Jackson Bird (two for 29) snared the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne (five) in the eighth over but Australia had to wait until 20 minutes before lunch for a second wicket, with the dismissal of Tillakaratne Dilshan (34).
Bird almost grabbed a third but Thirimanne survived a review after being given out leg before wicket.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 169 for 4 (Mahela Jayawardene 72, Lahiru Thirimanne 37*; Jackson Bird 2 for 29) vs Australia
(with inputs from AFP)
First Published: January 3, 2013, 9:51 am