Phil Hughes scored 86 on his comeback and Michael Clarke and David Warner also made half-centuries as Australia reached 299-4 against Sri Lanka on the opening day of their Test cricket series.
Hughes, playing his first Test in a year after replacing the retired Ricky Ponting, was dismissed after the tea break by Chanaka Welegedara, who took three of the Australian wickets to fall on the first day of the best-of-three contest.
“It would have been nice to get the three figures and beyond but that’s how it goes,” Hughes said in a televised interview with Channel Nine. “It was a good day for the team.”
Australia captain Clarke, who won the toss at Bellerive Oval in Hobart, combined with Mike Hussey for an unbeaten 101-run stand to guide the home team to stumps without further loss. Clarke will resume on 70, with Hussey on 37.
Australia lost Shane Watson, who had dropped down the order to No. 4 to accommodate Hughes, for 30 in the afternoon session when Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene took a diving one-handed catch at second slip. Warner was run out for 57 following a mix-up with Hughes, a dismissal that triggered the lunch break. Welegedara earlier removed Ed Cowan for 4 when the opener miscued a pull shot to Shaminda Eranga at mid-on.
Ponting, who retired from international cricket as Australia’s leading run-scorer last week after playing a record-tying 168 Tests, did a farewell lap at his home ground in Tasmania on the back of a pick-up truck during the lunch interval. He was also given guards of honor by his local cricket club and his former Australian teammates.
The teams are also scheduled to play matches in Melbourne and Sydney. Sri Lanka failed to win any of its previous 10 Tests in Australia.