Solid half-centuries from opener David Warner, the recalled Phil Hughes and captain Michael Clarke ensured Australia a position of power on day one of the first Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Friday.

The hosts rode to a promising 299 for four, as Warner shrugged off recent criticism en route to a telling 57, Hughes marked his return to the XI with a fitting 86 and Clarke added an unbeaten 70 to his rich run of form this month.

Sri Lanka, chasing their maiden Test victory in the country, will consider this a substandard start to their quest - and will ask considerably more of their fast bowlers, particularly Chanaka Welegedara, come Saturday.

Welegedara was the pick of the bowlers, snaring the scalps of the left-handed Ed Cowan, all-rounder Shane Watson and Hughes. His wickets came at the hefty price of nearly five runs per over, though, with no-balls dogging his approach.

Hughes was the greatest beneficiary of the left-arm seamer's oversteps, welcoming eight boundaries and a solitary six during his 166-ball stay, which would've read substantially shorter had he not been caught off a no-ball.

Warner, meanwhile, will regret running himself out in the over before lunch, and Ed Cowan will rue perishing to the pull shot. Watson, moved to four in the order to accommodate Hughes, was reasonably comfortable in the position - and would have gone further than 30 were it not for an outstanding catch by slip fielder Mahela Jayawardene.

The precarious nature of 198 for four shortly after the tea break was soon steadied by Clarke's vigil and the veteran Michael Hussey's 36 not out. The composition of a string of fighting stands against South Africa recently, the pair aligned superbly again.

Their unbroken 101-run partnership was characteristically fluid, with the captain widening his lead over England's Alastair Cook and South Africa's Hashim Amla in this year's top run-scoring ranks.

Sri Lanka immediately called for the second new ball at the turn of the 80th over, though failed to make it count, which they will have to rectify quickly to stave off a hefty first-innings pursuit across the weekend.