Australian pacemen James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc restricted Sri Lanka to 227 for eight despite half-centuries from Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal in the first ODI on Sunday.
Faulkner and Starc, who became the fastest to reach 100 wickets in his 52nd match, shared seven wickets between them to validate skipper Steve Smith’s decision to bowl first at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
Starc, who took three wickets, struck with the fourth ball of the innings to have opener Kusal Perera trudging back to the pavilion for one.
Veteran batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Mendis, who scored 67, then came together for a 42-run second-wicket partnership to bring some stability to the innings.
Mendis was dropped on 14 off left-arm paceman James Faulkner when Aaron Finch spilt a catch at midwicket after appearing to lose sight of the ball against the sun.
Dilshan was less lucky when his trademark “Dilscoop” — a cheeky shot played behind the wicket — went awry. The ball looped up off the edge of the bat to fall into the waiting hands of Smith at first slip.
Mendis, whose 176 in the first Test remained the defining knock of the three-match series, registered his fourth half-century in only his eight ODI.
The 21-year-old got good support from wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal, who scored an unbeaten 80, as the pair put together a 79-run third-wicket stand to help Sri Lanka rebuild.
But a double strike by Faulkner in the 30th over checked Sri Lanka’s surge after Mendis and skipper Angelo Mathews were dismissed in the space of three deliveries. Starc returned with another wicket-taking spell to send Dhananjaya de Silva trudging back to the pavilion and claim his 100th wicket.
The left-armer broke a 19-year-old record set by Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who claimed 100 wickets in 53 matches. The in-form Chandimal kept his focus to register his fifth consecutive ODI half-century after scoring four on the England tour.
But Faulkner took two more wickets to check Sri Lanka’s run-rate in the final overs for a career-best ODI figure of 4-38.
Australia are looking for redemption in the five-match ODI series after suffering their first series whitewash against Sri Lanka in the three Tests.