Sri Lanka will need to bat at blistering pace on the final day of the first Test if they're to score the 328 runs they still require against Australia in Hobart, but the more likely scenario is that they will try to bat it out, after ending day four on 65 for two.

It was a day of many wickets, as the hosts were all out for 278 having started the day none down, while the visitors lost both openers in the evening session to sit precariously on the edge of a defeat, needing 393 to win.

The hosts will not be totally satisfied though, as they have to think ahead to the second game where they might be without both Ben Hilfenhaus, who picked up a side strain, and Michael Clarke.

The skipper had to hobble off the field on 57, clutching the back of his left leg. A Cricket Australia spokesperson confirmed that the in-form batsman would be sent for a scan.

The Aussies started the day in a good position on 27 for none, with David Warner and Ed Cowan in the middle overnight. Sri Lanka soon took control of the day though, and spinner Rangana Herath continued his impressive form by taking five wickets in the innings.

Warner and Cowan were superb initially, putting on a century stand in the morning as the Aussies looked to run away with the match. But when Warner was dismissed by Herath with the score on 132, they would not have predicted a total collapse.

They went from 132 for one to five wickets down for 181, as the top order fell to both spin and pace. Clarke then came in to steady the knock and made his half century off 46 balls, but his unplanned departure left the door open for the visitors.

Paceman Chanaka Welegedera took three scalps on the day, two in the tail, before Herath wrapped up the innings by trapping the injured Hilfenhaus in front. This left Michael Hussey stranded on 31 not out.

Sri Lanka batted slowly when they were sent out, and the opening bowlers took the shine off the ball without much drama. But Shane Watson's golden arms struck again as he dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan with his first ball for 11.

Dimuth Karunaratne then batted alongside Kumar Sangakkara to take the score to 47, but the rookie opener could prevent a Mitchell Starc delivery from removing his bails with hi score on 30.

Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were in the middle at the close, giving Sri Lanka hope of closing out the game for a draw if their two most experienced batsmen can resist on the final day on a tricky wicket.