Zeenews Sports Bureau
AUSTRALIA: Over: 90 II Score: 299/4 (1st innings) ( Clarke: 70*, Hussey: 37*)
Australia end the opening day losing four wickets after scoring 292 runs with their skipper Michael Clarke batting alongside Michael Hussey. They lost the wicket of Ed Cowan early but two fifty plus stands helped them recover from the early shock. Phil Hughes, who last played for the national team way back in December 2011 on the same ground, made 86, missing out on a century on return to Tests after being bowled by Chanaka Welegedara. David Warner too scored a fifty before departing for the dressing room at the stroke of lunch. For Sri Lanka, Welegedara took three wickets in his 20 overs while leaking 99 runs. The two Michaels have added 101 runs for the fifth wicket. This is Clarke’s 23rd Test fifty and he has now scored over 1400 runs in the calendar year.
Phil Hughes top-scored on his return to Australia's Test team, hitting 86 as the hosts finished today's opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka on 299-4.
Brought back after a year's absence to replace the retired Ricky Ponting at No 3, Hughes was even on course for his first Test century on home soil until Chanaka Welegedara bowled him for 86 in the second over after tea.
Captain Michael Clarke then continued his stellar form for 2012 with 70 not out in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 101 with Mike Hussey (37).
Welegedara was the most expensive bowler at Bellerive Oval but also the most dangerous, finishing with 3-99 after removing Ed Cowan in the morning session and Shane Watson after lunch.
Cowan failed to convince and fellow opener David Warner was needlessly run out, but Clarke and Hussey maintained Australia's hopes of a commanding total.
Clarke was limping at the close after a blow to the knee but still moved to 1,428 runs for 2012 with his 22nd career half century.
"He does have a big limp but he'll get a bit of treatment and I'm sure he'll continue on tomorrow," Hughes said.
Clarke dominated more than Hughes but the latter did enough against a largely disciplined but unthreatening Sri Lanka seam attack to suggest his third stint in the side could be longer than the previous two.
"There were a few nerves but really I was quite calm," Hughes said. "Overall, it was more excitement. To get a few runs behind me, the confidence is quite high now."
Hughes has three test centuries but had never previously scored heavily at home.
The 24-year-old former opener came to the crease at 18-1 after Clarke had won the toss, and withstood patient probing of his reworked technique until hitting out midway through the second session.
Hughes scored at almost a run a ball off Welegedara and plundered a huge six down the ground off spinner Rangana Herath, who was far less dangerous than his recent form had hinted.
Hughes had a reprieve while on 77 caught behind by Prasanna Jayawardene when Welegedara was no-balled for overstepping but fell to the fifth ball he faced after tea.
Welegedara bowled him via an inside edge for what could still be a crucial breakthrough for Sri Lanka, which has never won a test match in Australia.
Cowan was the first man out on Friday, scoring 4 in an eventful cameo.
He nearly fell to the first ball he faced edging just short of Angelo Mathews' dive across second slip scored 4 from his next delivery and was then dismissed in search of runs following 11 scoreless deliveries. Cowan tried to pull Welegedara but got to the ball late and top-edged to Shaminda Eranga for an easy catch at mid-on.
Warner, who scored an unbeaten century on the same ground a year ago, made 57 from 89 balls before a needless run out.
Warner changed his mind about a quick single on the last ball of the morning session but Hughes continued his charge down the wicket to leave his teammate well short at the non-striker's end and Australia wobbling slightly at 97-2.
Watson steadied things with 30 in an 86-run partnership with Hughes before falling to a sensational full-length, one-handed catch by veteran captain Mahela Jayawardene at second slip.