Galle, Sri Lanka: Australia lost the wickets of thier opening batsmen cheaply before lunch on the opening day of the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Wednesday.

Australia, electing to bat after winning the toss, were 76 for two at the break with Ricky Ponting and skipper Michael Clarke on 21 runs each, the pair having put on 40 for the third wicket.

The start was delayed by an hour due to overnight rains, but coverings ensured the wicket and the outfield remained dry.

Australia raced to 28-0 in six overs, 22 of them coming from the blade of Shane Watson, who smashed seamer Chanaka Welegedara for four boundaries in one over.

But Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan introduced spinner Rangana Herath in the seventh over, and the left-armer met with immediate success when Watson was caught behind on his first delivery.

The ball turned sharply, indicating the barren, dry wicket will favour spin as the match progresses.

Seamer Suranga Lakmal was rewarded for a probing first spell when he had opener Phillip Hughes fending a rising ball to Tharanga Paranavitana in the slips.

Left-handed Hughes was out for just 12 as Australia slipped to 36-2 in the 10th over.

Ponting brought up Australia's 50 with a boundary off Welegedara as the former captain and his successor Clarke settled in to deny Sri Lanka any more wickets.

Australia awarded Test caps to seamer Trent Copeland and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, while Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja was preferred to Shaun Marsh for the number six position.

Lyon, 23, who had played just four first-class matches when he was picked for the tour, was given the nod for the opening Test over left-arm spinner Michael Beer.

Copeland, 25, a lanky seamer from New South Wales, picked up six wickets during the three-day warm-up match in Colombo last week in which left-hander Khawaja scored a century.

Sri Lanka left out unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis and decided to go with two seamers in Welegedera and Lakmal, and two slow bowlers in Herath and Suraj Randiv.