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Starc has to hit the target

MITCH Starc must regain his accuracy in time for Sri Lanka's fourth-innings chase in the Hobart Test after he finished as Australia's most expensive Test bowler for the second consecutive innings.

Australian captain Michael Clarke's frustration with the highly promising left-armer's lack of economy was reflected in him giving Shane Watson first use of the ball on day three and, more significant, later replacing Starc after only two overs with the second new ball.

Clarke's move was not isolated, as with the five spells Starc bowled on day three, he was given only two overs in three of them. He finished the innings with 1-104 from 24 overs.

Ben Hilfenhaus' likely absence for the second innings has increased the pressure on Starc, not least because Australia's only other fit paceman, Peter Siddle, customarily does not get the new ball whereas Starc typically does.

The towering 22-year-old pitched the ball up seeking movement but got little. The resulting half-volleys were relished by Sri Lanka's batsmen, especially opener Tillakaratne Dilshan.

While Starc got some reward midway through day three, bowling Dilshan with a fine yorker for 147, the Sri Lankan had already claimed eight of his 21 boundaries from his bowling by that stage.


''Sometimes bowlers bowl really well, but I'm really enjoying his width. I'm always happy to get width, I score a lot of runs there,'' Dilshan said.

''Compared to others, I'm a little bit different. My batting style is that I'm always trying to score runs and be positive.

''I don't mind, I just go for it from the first ball.''

Selectors' faith in Starc was evident in his selection ahead of Mitch Johnson for this Test, because although the younger left-armer claimed eight wickets in the previous match, he also conceded more than 4.5 runs an over across the match. Johnson, who has previously been pilloried for being expensive, conceded just under four an over.

'' 'Starky' [Starc] has been in the queue for a long time, the past eight to 12 months, and we thought he bowled really well in the Test match in Perth, as did Mitchell Johnson,'' said captain and selector Clarke before the match when asked about team selection.

In Hilfenhaus' absence, all-rounder Shane Watson bowled 20.4 overs in Sri Lanka's first innings, the most he had bowled in any Test since the previous time these teams met, in Colombo 15 months ago.

If Watson bowls a similar or higher proportion of overs in the second innings, which is likely given the circumstance, the 31-year-old could exceed his biggest bowling workload in a Test, which was 35.4 overs against India in Nagpur in 2008.

Dilshan's century was his first away from Sri Lanka in 13 innings, since he made 193 against England at Lord's in June 2011.

Having also not managed a century on his only previous Test tour of Australia in July 2004 - he did not score above 35 in four innings - he said he was delighted to have already made an impact in this series.