Starc had Jayawardene (72) caught by Michael Clarke at first slip but he had to endure an agonising wait to have the wicket confirmed as the third umpire scrutinised a delivery which was millimetres away from being a no-ball.
Peter Siddle then claimed the wicket of Thilan Samaraweera just before tea to ensure the hosts, who won the toss, were on top, but it was Jackson Bird, who took two wickets in the morning, who was the pick of Australia's four-man attack.
Sri Lanka were untroubled early as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dimuth Karunaratne got the score to 26 before the latter threw his wicket away. The left-hander tried to pull a Bird bouncer but only succeeded in getting a top edge which flew high above the slips, with the retiring Mike Hussey running back to take a comfortable catch.
While Hussey did well to take that catch, he missed an opportunity to remove Jayawardene just six runs later. Peter Siddle got a ball to move away for the veteran right-hander, catching the outside edge and flying to Hussey at second slip. But the man known as Mr Cricket was late in seeing the ball, moving too slowly to his left, with the ball slipping through his fingers and down to the boundary for four.
And Jayawardene made the most of his life, looking comfortable as he hit five boundaries on his way to an unbeaten 30 at lunch.
The skipper and Dilshan looked like putting the visitors in firm control at the first break as they played some cracking shots all around the ground. But Bird, the pick of Australia's four-man pace attack, tempted Dilshan (34) into a drive with and Matthew Wade took an easy catch off the outside edge.
Jayawardene began the second session with two fours off Siddle, and he then reached 50 in fortuitous fashion, edging Mitchell Johnson to the boundary as the ball bounced just in front of second slip Hussey.
The Sri Lanka skipper appeared in prime form as he cracked Nathan Lyon for a straight six, but just four balls later he departed as he edged Starc to Clarke. The bowler could consider himself lucky though as replays showed that, though his foot was over the line when the ball was delivered, his heel landed millimetres behind before sliding over.
That ended a partnership of 62 and exposed Samaraweera, who could not hold on until the break - he was trapped lbw by a Siddle delivery which nipped back. Thirimanne was unbeaten on 37 at tea, alongside Angelo Mathews, who was yet to get off the mark.
- Sports & Recreation
- Peter Siddle
- Tillakaratne Dilshan
- Mike Hussey