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Australia dominated the opening day of the 1st test against Sri Lanka in Hobart, posting a solid 299-4 on the back of half-centuries from the returning Phillip Hughes (86), David Warner (57) and skipper Mike Hussey (70*). Sri Lanka would be more than a little disappointed with their efforts on the day as they failed to make full use of a green pitch, with their medium pacers with the exception of Chanaka Welegedara (3-99) going wicketless.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, despite the green tinge on the wicket at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. That decision threatened to backfire when they lost opener Ed Cowan for 4, caught at mid-on off Welegedara as an attempted pull went awry.
Phillip Hughes and David Warner came together with the score at 18-1 and saw out the bulk of the first session. Warner hit 8 fours in his 89-ball effort worth 57, a slightly more restrained effort than usual. The Lankan bowlers though posed no genuine threat as they failed to bend their backs and extract anything special from the wicket.
Sri Lanka though picked up a bonus wicket against the run of play as Warner was run out on the stroke of lunch, a poor decision attempting to steal a single to Angelo Mathews at cover.
Hughes was joined at the crease by Shane Watson, batting perhaps a spot or two higher than he should considering the form of Clarke and Mike Hussey to follow. The duo though continued to build an innings, adding 86 for the third wicket before Watson fell for 30, brilliantly caught by Mahela Jayawardene in the slips.
Hughes and Clarke needed to survive a tough little period before tea and Australia went into the break at 193-3 with the former unbeaten on 82.
Sadly for Hughes, he failed to convert his start into a three digit score, falling shortly after tea to that man Welegedara once again, edging a ball back onto his stumps after adding just 4 more runs to his score.
At 198-4, the day's honours were still very much in the balance, with Sri Lanka knowing that a couple more wickets would put them firmly in the driver's seat, however, like they have all summer, Clarke and Hussey proved to be impossible to remove.
Clarke brought up his half-century in 109 balls and accelerated thereafter, finishing unbeaten on 70. Should Sri Lanka fail to remove him early tomorrow, he could well make another big one. Hussey meanwhile was a lot more cautious in his approach, striking just one boundary on his was to an unbeaten 37.
Nearly 300 runs in a day's play may be a little under par for course considering the kind of plundering form the Aussie batsmen have been off late against South Africa, but given the sluggish conditions in Hobart, it seemed a good day's work. Sri Lanka will need to up the ante on day 2 else risk finding themselves batted out of the game.
Australia: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Michael Clarke (c), Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Matthew Wade (wk), Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (c), Angelo Mathews, Thilan Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Tharanga Paranavitana, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedera.
Australia 299-4 (90 overs, 3.32rpo)
P Hughes 87 (166) C Welegedara 3-99
M Clarke 70 (136)
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