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Sri Lanka opt to bat against Australia in first test

(Reuters) - Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and opted to bat on a dry pitch in the first test of the three-match series against Australia at Pallekele on Tuesday.

The injury-ravaged hosts, ranked seventh in the world, handed debuts to all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva and left-arm slow bowler Lakshan Sandakan.

Mathews' side, who lost their last two test series in New Zealand and England, are missing pacemen Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera while Suranga Lakmal was also ruled out from the match due to an ankle complaint.

"It's obvious, we'll have a bat," Mathews said after his counterpart Steve Smith called wrongly at the toss.

"Pitch looks pretty good but it can turn, probably around day two. We would like to put the runs on the board.

"We've got a good set of young players you can look forward to."

Australia captain Smith had earlier informed that the world's top-ranked test side, who have won just one out of their last 15 tests in Asia, will go into the match with two slow bowlers in off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-armer Steve O'Keefe.

Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was back after a long injury layoff to lead Australia's pace attack.

Smith, who is yet to lose a test when leading the side, said he would also have batted first had he won the toss.

"Looks like a pretty dry wicket and they're playing about four spinners so would have had the bat," said Smith, who is ranked number one among test batsmen in the world.

"(Opener David Warner)'s back, which is pretty exciting for us, he is in great form so hopefully he's got some runs in this match.

"It's been a great prep and the boys are ready to go."

Teams:

Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (captain), Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien)

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