Four key wickets from Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and an inspired reply from Sri Lanka's new-ball attack brought an intriguing start to the second Test on Thursday.

As many as 13 wickets fell on day one at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where Johnson marked his return by resigning the opposition to 156 all out - before the hosts' response slipped to 150 for three.

Triumphant at the toss but largely outgunned in the middle, the visitors had little answer to the home side's seam attack. Johnson, replacing the injured Ben Hilfenhaus was outstanding, while debutant Jackson Bird impressed after the first-choice Mitchell Starc was rested.

Right-armer Peter Siddle, eager to build on his Man-of-the-Match performance in Hobart, was characteristicly fierce - and spinner Nathan Lyon did well enough in conditions primed for seam bowling.

The day brought two milestones, with Johnson clinching his 200th Test scalp. The veteran Kumar Sangakkara, meanwhile, became the 11th player to surpass 10,000 runs in the longest format of the international game, joining a clubbed line with the elite presence of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Steve Waugh and more.

Sangakkara's 58 was the backbone of an otherwise poor effort with the bat from the Sri Lankans. His 98-ball stay was eventually ended by an outstanding catch from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who sprinted 30 metres to take pocket the batsman's pull shot on the dive.

The final total would have read considerably worse than 150-plus, too, had wicketkeeper-batsman Prasanna Jayawardene not put in a handy cameo of two dozen down the order. His effort came at a cost, though, after copping a nasty blow to the right thumb from a rising delivery from Johnson.

A scan later revealed a hairline fracture, casting Jayawardene's participation in the remainder of the series, with Sangakkara left to fill in behind the stumps for the duration of the day.

Sri Lanka's retort with the ball was reasonably strong - and three wickets at least afforded them a slender six-run lead ahead of an important second day in Melbourne.

Momentarily rattled by a quickfire half-century from the hard-hitting David Warner, the tourists kept their collective cool to end the aggressive vigil on 62. The left-handed Phil Hughes then ran himself out, and opener Ed Cowan holed out to the slips.

All-rounder Shane Watson and skipper Michael Clarke, who kept his place in the team despite a hamstring injury, later moved to 13 not out and 20 not out respectively.

The duo, thoroughly adept to the nature of the MCG track, will know full well plenty of runs will be on offer come Thursday, provided they can orchestrate the patience that evaded the batsmen before them on day one.