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Cricket-Bird strikes to leave Sri Lanka two down at lunch

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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Australian paceman Jackson Bird removed both Sri Lanka openers to reduce the tourists to 80 for two at lunch on the first day of the third and final test on Thursday.

Australia skipper Michael Clarke won the toss and put the tourists in to bat against his four-pronged pace attack in a bid to take the early initiative in their quest to wrap up a 3-0 series sweep.

Bird made an early breakthrough in the eighth over when he had Dimuth Karunaratne caught off a top edge by Mike Hussey for five and returned an hour later to dismiss Tillakaratne Dilshan, caught behind for 34.

Mahela Jayawardene, playing his last test as Sri Lanka skipper, will resume on 30 not out alongside Lahiru Thirimanne, who survived a first-ball scare to reach the break unbeaten on four.

After Karunaratne's soft dismissal, it looked like the Sri Lankans might make it through the first session without further loss until Bird tempted Dilshan into an edge that Matthew Wade took comfortably behind the stumps.

Thirimanne, who arrived in Australia only three days ago as a late reinforcement, was given out lbw on the next delivery but an appeal to the TV umpire confirmed the ball pitched outside leg and then would have missed the leg stump.

Injuries forced Sri Lanka to make four changes to the team that lost the second test in Melbourne by an innings and 201 runs to go 2-0 down in the series last week.

Thirimanne came into the side to bat in place of Kumar Sangakkara, while Dinesh Chandimal will keep wickets for Prasanna Jayawardene, who failed a fitness test on Wednesday.

Fast bowlers Chanaka Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga were also ruled out - the latter after turning his ankle while training on Wednesday - with Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal coming in to bowl. (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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