PALLEKELE // The Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was left ruing a poor display by the top order might have already cost them the second Test as the Australians took control on the first day of the second Test in Pallakele today.
Fast bowler Ryan Harris led the way with three wickets and Trent Copeland, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon picked up two each in good batting conditions to limit Sri Lanka to just 174 at the Pallekele International Stadium.
The openers also provided an unbeaten solid start of 60 runs when bad light ended play 5.2 overs early. Shane Watson returned unbeaten on 36 with six boundaries and Phillip Hughes was on a watchful 23 at stumps.
The hosts, electing to bat after winning the toss, never recovered after they lost half the side for 76 by lunch, the top three falling by the eighth over with the score at just 14.
"The Australians bowled well, but we had no business to get out so cheaply," Dilshan said. "It is always difficult to come back into the match after making so few runs.
"The batsmen must start delivering. We just can't afford to get out like this all the time."
Angelo Mathews, Dilshan's deputy, cracked three sixes and six boundaries in an aggressive 58 to boost the total, but seven batsmen failed to reach double figures.
Kumar Sangakkara chipped in with 48, adding 43 for the fourth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera and 52 for the sixth with Mathews.
The elegant left-hander looked set for a major knock when he lost his wicket to part-time bowler Mike Hussey, whose slow-medium delivery was driven to Hughes at short-cover.
It was only the third wicket in 61 Tests for Hussey and compounded Sri Lanka's woes on a wicket that had rolled out well in favour of the batsmen.
Hussey also picked up a brilliant diving catch at gully to remove star batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who had hit a century in Galle.
"It's pretty special that I had a hand in the dismissal of their two main batsmen," said a delighted Hussey.
"I could not believe it when Michael (Clarke) got me on to bowl. And I was pretty shocked when Sangakkara got out. But it was a valuable wicket to take because he is a very good batsman."
The hosts had been dismissed for 105 and 253 in the first Test with a century from Mahela Jayawardene and 95 from Mathews being the only major contributions.
Sri Lanka included leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna for his maiden Test match after both Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis were ruled out with injuries.
Australia won the first Test in Galle by 125 runs.
T Paranavitana c Haddin b Harris 0
T Dilshan b Copeland 4
K Sangakkara c Hughes b Hussey 48
M Jayawardene c Hussey b Copeland 4
T Samaraweera c Haddin b Harris 17
P Jayawardene c Harris b Lyon 18
A Mathews c Haddin b Johnson 58
S Randiv c & b Lyon 4
S Prasanna b Harris 5
S Lakmal not out 7
C Welagedara c Copeland b Johnson 2
Extras (b 2 lb 4 nb 1) 7
Total (all out; 64.1 overs) 174
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-10, 3-14, 4-57, 5-76, 6-128, 7-133, 8-150, 9-166
Bowling: R Harris 16-7-38-3, T Copeland 12-5-24-2, S Watson 10-5-17-0, M Johnson 15.1-1-48-2 (1nb), N Lyon 10-2-41-2, M Hussey 1-1-0-1
S Watson not out 36
P Hughes not out 23
Extras (nb 1) 1
Total (no wicket; 17.4 overs) 60
Bowling (to date): C Welagedara 5-0-27-0, S Lakmal 2-0-10-0, (1nb), S Prasanna 6.4-1-18-0, T Dilshan 2-1-1-0, S Randiv 2-0-4-0