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Australia Takes Late Wickets to Beat Sri Lanka in Cricket Opener

Australia beat Sri Lanka by 137 runs in their series-opening cricket Test as Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle took six wickets in the last session.

Starc took four wickets for 17 runs in his final 38-ball spell as Sri Lanka was dismissed for 255 after giving itself a chance of drawing the match in Hobart by reaching 186-4 at tea on day five. Starc finished with 5-63 and Peter Siddle took 4-50 to lead the Australian bowlers, who were a man down after Ben Hilfenhaus sustained a side strain on day three.

“Our bowlers deserve a lot of credit,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said at a televised news conference. “Starcy was outstanding.”

Starc and Siddle, who was named man of the match after finishing with 9-104, took the eight wickets to fall on the final day after Sri Lanka resumed at 65-2 needing 393 runs for the victory. The touring team has now lost nine and drawn two of its 11 Tests in Australia.

The second Test starts Dec. 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with the series finale beginning Jan. 3 in Sydney.

Up until the tea break, Australia had been frustrated by Sri Lanka’s batsmen, taking two wickets in the first two sessions. Rain showers twice delayed play in the afternoon.

Kumar Sangakkara top scored with 63 off 226 balls before Siddle trapped him leg-before-wicket, while Thilan Samaraweera offered further resistance with 49 off 140 balls until getting dismissed in the same manner.

Keeper Bowls

Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade bowled the last over before tea in an effort to break up a partnership between Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews as batsman Phil Hughes took his place behind the stumps. Wade later took catches off Siddle and Starc to remove Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekara and reduce Sri Lanka to 247-8.

“He’s got me out a few times in the nets,” Clarke said of Wade. “I think you might see more of Matthew Wade bowling.”

Starc wrapped up the victory by bowling Rangana Herath and having Shaminda Eranga caught behind.

Mahela Jayawardene was the only wicket to fall during the morning session when Clarke, who injured his right hamstring yesterday, took a low catch at slip off Siddle’s bowling to dismiss his rival captain for 19.

While Hilfenhaus will be replaced by rookie bowler Jackson Bird in a 13-man squad for the second Test, Clarke said he’s “really confident” of playing at the MCG. Usman Khawaja was called up as batting cover for the Australian skipper.

International Cricket Council match referee Chris Broad, meantime, said there was no evidence to suggest that the condition of the ball had been changed by Australia during the Test, after Sri Lanka had expressed concerns over alleged tampering on day three.

Broad said in a statement that the umpires had reviewed television replays and will not lay charges.

“In the opinion of the umpires, there was no evidence to suggest that the condition of the ball was changed, or that the video or photographic evidence would support a charge under the code of conduct,” Broad said.

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