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Australia bowled Sri Lanka out for 294 in the third Test in Sydney

Jackson Bird: Led the attack with 4-41 as Australia took the honours on day one

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Australia took the honours on day one of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney, dismissing the tourists for 294.

Half-centuries from Mahela Jayawardene (72) and Lahiru Thirimanne (91) guided Sri Lanka into a solid position before they lost their last five wickets for 44 runs.

Jackson Bird (4-41) was the chief destroyer while the returning Mitchell Starc (3-71) also impressed as Australia's bowlers eventually justified skipper Michael Clarke's decision to field first.

Bird picked up both openers before lunch, Dimuth Karunaratne departing for five when he miscued an attempted pull shot before Tillakaratne Dilshan (34) was caught behind.

Jayawardene and Thirimanne put on 62 runs for the third wicket before an inspired bowling change saw Starc strike with the first ball of his new spell, Clarke taking a simple slip catch to remove the former.

Peter Siddle trapped Thilan Samaraweera lbw as the vulnerable and wounded visitors showed tremendous resolve to get to 169-4 at tea.

However Thirimanne's soft dismissal inside the last hour triggered a flood of wickets.

The batsman rode his luck - reprieved by the third umpire after being given out lbw first ball and edging spinner Nathan Lyon only for the ball to go to ground - in a 151-ball stay that saw him move within nine of a maiden Test century.

It took a sensational diving catch from David Warner off Lyon to remove him while Starc got rid of both Angelo Mathews (15) and Dinesh Chandimal (24).

Dhammika Prasad (two), Rangana Herath (five) and Suranga Lakmal (five) all went in quick succession once Australia took the new ball as the tourists - already 2-0 down in the series - were skittled just before the close.