GALLLE: Sri Lanka seam bowler Vishwa Fernando took a wicket from only his second ball in test cricket on Thursday as Australia reached 54-2 at stumps on the first day of an evenly balanced second test.
Fernando had Joe Burns caught by Kusal Perera, with the tourists still to score. Fernando is making his test debut in place of the injured Nuwan Pradeep.
Sri Lanka was earlier all out for 281 in its first innings and leads Australia by 227 runs.
David Warner, who showed signs of returning to form with a 41-ball 42, was dismissed off the last ball of the day caught by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews off spinner Dilruwan Perera.
Warner scored just one run in the first test which Australia lost by 106 runs in Pallekele to trail in the three-match series.
Kusal Mendis continued his good form, top-scoring with 86 for Sri Lanka and sharing 108 runs for the third wicket with Kusal Perera (49) and 67 runs with Mathews (54) after Sri Lanka slumped to 9-2.
Mendis scored 176 his maiden test hundred in the first test.
Starc said losing Warner close to stumps was a setback but called it a “pretty even day.”
“(It) would be nice to go into stumps one down, to be honest. It’s still a pretty good batting wicket. There is nothing in it for the quicks,” said Starc. “Nice that (the) Sri Lankans didn’t get away from us with the bat, especially the tail, a bit like they did in the first test.”
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford was happy with the day’s play.
“The first hour tomorrow is going to be very important and whoever wins that hour is going to be having an edge in the game,” Ford said.
Starc gave Australia a dream start, dismissing Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne off the first delivery of the match and later having Kaushal Silva caught behind.
Sri Lanka reached lunch at 109-2 but Perera was dismissed in the third over after the interval when he was caught at slip by Australia captain Steve Smith for 49. The partnership between Mendis and Perera lasted 160 deliveries.
Perera faced 82 balls and hit five boundaries.
Mendis added 67 with Mathews before being caught behind by Peter Nevill. Mendis, who hit 10 boundaries and two sixes, had successfully reviewed a lbw decision when on 78.
Dinesh Chandimal (5) fell cheaply, caught by Usman Khawaja off fast bowler Josh Hazlewood.
Starc ended with 5-44 and reached his 100-wicket mark in tests. Off spinner Nathan Lyon took 2-78.
Like Sri Lanka, Australia also made one change, handing left-arm spinner Jon Holland his first test cap in place of Steve O’Keefe, who returned home injured.