Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc bowled Australia to victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Hobart on Tuesday (December 18), claiming six wickets in the final session for a thrilling win.
The Sri Lankans looked to be batting out for a draw until Siddle and Starc struck to secure Australia's first win of the home season, after losing to South Africa 1-0 in the recent three-Test series. Starc claimed the last four wickets to fall to end with five for 63, while Siddle was named man of the match after his four for 50 gave him nine wickets for the match.
Australia found it hard going to gouge out the batsmen on a fifth-day pitch until the wickets tumbled in the final two hours. They got the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene before lunch, Kumar Sangakkara in the middle session and the remaining six wickets in the final one after Sri Lanka appeared to be heading for a morale-boosting draw.
Siddle struck in the fourth over after tea when Angelo Mathews needlessly flicked outside his off stump and nicked to Matthew Wade for 19, giving the Australians a glimmer of victory. Mathews, who is in line to replace Jayawardene as captain after the current tour, batted for 61 balls and put on 50 runs for the fifth wicket with Samaraweera.
Siddle gave the Australians more hope when he trapped Samaraweera leg before wicket for 49 off 140 balls. A few overs later, Prasanna Jayawardene, who has scored four Test centuries, could not avoid a spitting delivery from Starc and gloved to Mike Hussey at second slip for 21.
Starc bowled a beautiful delivery to entice an edge off Nuwan Kulasekara, caught behind for nine, as the match headed into the final 15 overs. He then bowled Rangana Herath for eight, and finished off the innings when he had Shaminda Eranga caught behind for six to end Sri Lanka's dogged resistance.
The Australians had earlier removed Jayawardene (19) and Sangakkara (63), but for a time were hitting a brick wall in their attempts to make further inroads. At one stage, Michael Clarke, the captain, even brought Matthew Wade, the wicketkeeper, into the attack, with his lively medium pace utilised for a maiden over before the tea adjournment.
Siddle made the crucial breakthrough in the middle session, trapping Sangakkara leg before wicket for 63 in the 76th over. Sangakkara had asked for a referral, but it was re-confirmed and his 226-ball and 277-minute vigil was over, leaving the Sri Lankans four down for 151.
Australia dismissed Jayawardene midway through the morning session after Clarke, playing with an injured hamstring, bent low to take a sharp catch off Siddle in the 56th over. Jayawardene had resisted for 77 balls for his 19, and stubbornly put on 65 runs for the third wicket with Sangakkara off 193 balls. It capped a low scoring match for Jayawardene, who only made 12 in the first innings.
Sri Lanka are yet to win in Australia in 11 Tests. The series now goes to Melbourne for the second Test, starting on Boxing Day. The final Test starts in Sydney on January 3.