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Seamers Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc skittled Sri Lanka's last six wickets in a dramatic final session to give Australia a 137-run victory in the last hour of the first Test on Tuesday. Siddle, who finished the match with figures of 9 for 104, and left-armer Starc, who took 5 for 63 in the second innings, bowled the tourists out for 255 after tea.
Having been stymied in similar circumstances by a brilliant rearguard action from South Africa in Adelaide last month, Australia were desperate not to repeat the experience in Hobart. However, it looked like it might be a case of deja vu at tea after some resilient Sri Lankan batting and a couple of rain breaks frustrated the hosts for two sessions. Captain Michael Clarke, whose team will take a 1-0 lead to Melbourne for the second match in the three-Test series, said he never doubted his bowlers.
Siddle had already taken the key wickets of captain Mahela Jayawardene (19) and ICC Cricketer of the Year Kumar Sangakkara (63) around lunch but the tourists reached tea on 186 with six wickets still in hand.
In a sign of Australia's growing desperation, wicketkeeper Matthew Wade shed his pads and gloves to bowl the final over before the break and claimed a maiden in his first spell in senior cricket.
Sri Lanka, set a victory target of 393, could still conceivably have won the match but a paltry return of 42 runs in the second session clearly indicated they were batting for a draw rather than a first win in Australia. The Australian bowling unit, a man down after local quick Ben Hilfenhaus suffered a side strain, never gave up, even if Siddle looked like the only man who might break through for much of the day. The 28-year-old struck again on the first ball of his second over after tea to dismiss all rounder Angelo Mathews for 19 and then removed the last of the Sri Lankan top order with a sizzling delivery which trapped Thilan Samaraweera lbw for 49. With Sri Lanka reduced to 218 for 6, Siddle took a rest but left-arm quick Starc picked up the baton and had soon removed Prasanna Jayawardene for 21.
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