Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga celebrated his return to international cricket with two wickets and two catches in Friday night's T20 at the MCG.
Malinga was on a hat-trick before Australia reached 6-168 from 20 overs.
Australian captain Aaron Finch top-scored with 43 and reached the milestone of 1000 T20 international runs.
The opening match of the three-game T20 series was Malinga's first full international in nearly a year, because of injury and illness.
It was also a milestone night for Australians Michael Klinger, Ashton Turner and Billy Stanlake and Sri Lankan Vikum Sanjaya, who made their T20 international debuts.
Australia have several top players unavailable because of the Indian Test tour.
The game attracted a solid crowd of around 35,000, with Sri Lankan fans definitely in the majority.
Klinger, at 36 the oldest Australian T20 international debutant, combined with Finch for a solid opening partnership after Sri Lanka won the toss.
They took Australia to 76 in the 11th over before Malinga caught him at deep third man off the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan for 38 from 32 balls.
The following over, Asela Gunaratne was brought on and Finch greeted him with a booming six that went 20 rows back into the Southern Stand.
But two balls later, Finch skied an edge to Malinga.
Sri Lanka could have tightened the screws further with three wickets in as many overs, but captain Upul Tharanga dropped a straightforward chance offered by Travis Head when he had only made four.
'It was a good time to drop a catch,' Australian coach Justin Langer noted during the match telecast.
Head made 31 from 23 balls before the left-hander holed out to Seekugge Prasanna off Malinga's bowling.
The next ball, right-hander Moises Henriques was caught by the same fielder at deep square leg for 17.
James Faulkner, who made 14no, survived the hat-trick ball.
Jhye Richardson, another uncapped player in the Australian squad, and Kusal Mendis were named as 12th men.