Peter Siddle's sixth five-wicket haul in Test cricket put Australia in a strong position at stumps on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The lionhearted Victorian produced miserly figures of 5-54 from 25.3 overs, first breaking a 161-run partnership between Sri Lankan mainstays Tillakaratne Dilshan (147) and Angelo Mathews (75) by dismissing the latter, before coming back late in the afternoon to clean up the tail.
Despite a nervy start interrupted by the briefest of rain breaks in Hobart, Australian openers Ed Cowan (16) and David Warner (eight) survived 14 overs before stumps in their second innings and will commence on Monday morning with Australia 0-27 and 141 runs ahead.
Siddle's combination with Nathan Lyon (2-76) helped slow Dilshan and Mathews after the pair had added 100 runs in the morning session, paving the way for the home side to take a handy lead later in the day.
With Sri Lanka resuming on day three at 4-87 in response to Australia's 5-450 declared, it had taken Australia almost two sessions to make the initial breakthrough on Sunday, Mathews first to go when struck on the pads by the deadly accurate Siddle in a typically tight spell before tea.
Mathews duly asked for a review of umpire Tony Hill's decision only to be sent packing when replays confirmed the ball was destined for the top of leg stump.
Dilshan's marathon innings eventually came to an end courtesy of a viciously angled Mitchell Starc yorker, the rangy 22-year-old delivering from wide around the wicket and arrowing the ball in at the base of off stump.
Having brought up his century from 148 deliveries, Dilshan's next 47 runs came from 125 balls, conspicuously tight spells from Siddle and Lyon cramping his style during a meandering second session.
But by anchoring the innings and adding a Bellerive record fifth-wicket stand alongside Mathews, Dilshan ensured his side passed the follow on shortly after tea – an outcome that was entirely questionable when the visitors began the day at 4-87.
A side strain suffered by Ben Hilfenhaus during the first session threatened to derail Australia's bowling effort and may prove most pivotal in the second innings if the Tasmanian quick is unable to perform.
Returning to the venue where he made a pair on the 2007 tour, Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (40) started brightly, twice finding the boundary from Shane Watson's first over after tea.
He was given out following an Australian referral in strange circumstances, umpire Hill initially signalling a run had been scored before the review showed the ball had clearly hit Jayawardene's pad first.
This was just one of several questionable calls from both players and umpires on an afternoon where the DRS appeared to be underutilised by both teams.
Nuwan Kulasekara (23) survived a scare on six thanks to a missed stumping by Matthew Wade, the gloveman muffing a clear-cut chance from Lyon's bowling in scenes reminiscent of his failure to punish South African captain Graeme Smith at Adelaide earlier in the summer.
The Sri Lankan quick did better on his next trip down the track, lofting Lyon high on the breeze and over the fence at wide long-on to add further insult to injury.
But the South Australian had the last laugh when Kulasekara chanced his arm once too often and picked out substitute fielder Jordan Silk on the midwicket boundary.
With two days to play Australia appear to be in the box seat for victory, but given regular rain delays, the potential loss of Hilfenhaus for the match and Sri Lanka's heavily credentialed batting line-up, all outcomes are still in the frame after three tight days.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 16 December, 2012 5:28PM AEST