Opener Joe Burns smashed Australia`s first century of the home season as he and Travis Head weathered early trouble against Sri Lanka`s makeshift pace attack to put the hosts in a solid position at tea in the second and final test on Friday.
Burns, who had scored the last of his three test hundreds against New Zealand in early 2016, was batting on 107, the first century by an Australian batsman since Usman Khawaja`s 141 in the drawn Dubai test against Pakistan last October.
Travis Head was unbeaten on 91, following up on his 84 in the victory in Brisbane last week, and the duo had added 192 in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand to take the hosts to 220 for three at the interval on the opening day.
On a chilly and overcast morning at the Manuka Oval, which made its debut as a test venue, Australia captain Tim Paine finally had some luck with the coin toss, winning for only the second time in nine tests he had led the team in.
But his joy was short-lived as Sri Lanka made early inroads despite being forced to go with a completely new pace attack with the injured Suranga Lakmal joining Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara in the sidelines after playing the opening test at the Gabba.
Left-armer Vishwa Fernando, who was not in the original squad and joined only as a replacement for Nuwan Pradeep, struck twice in two overs to dismiss left-handers Marcus Harris and Khawaja with his outswinging deliveries.
Opening batsman Harris started strongly to race to 11 before finding Chamika Karunaratne at point with a square drive, while number three Khawaja guided one to the slip fielder before opening his account.
Debutant Chamika, who arrived in Australia only couple of days back as a replacement, then picked up a wicket with only his fourth delivery in test cricket, getting Marnus Labuschagne (six) to edge behind.
The hosts, who lead the series 1-0 after their win in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs, were reduced to 28-3 at that stage before Burns and Head steadied the innings.
As the new ball lost its shine and the Sri Lankan pacemen their swing, the batting pair grew in confidence and upped their scoring rate.
Burns, who returned to the side in the ongoing series after being dropped against Pakistan and India, played some flowing off-drives and survived a dropped chance at slip by Dhananjaya de Silva against off-spinner Dilruwan Perera when batting on 34.
The right-hander also cut and pulled ferociously against Sri Lanka`s pace attack, who have a combined experience of five tests between themselves, to hit 17 fours in his knock so far.
Burns tapped for a single off paceman Kasun Rajitha to get to three figures and followed it with an emotional celebration amid a standing ovation from the crowd.
Head looked assured during his stay at the crease before he had a moment of fortune when Dilruwan Perera let a simple chance through his hands at gully off Rajitha with the batsman on 87