Sri Lanka were fighting to avoid a humiliating defeat inside three days after a horror start to their second innings in the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
Facing a 304-run innings deficit after the Australians were dismissed for 460 with Mitchell Johnson left stranded on 92, Sri Lanka lost four wickets in the first six overs to be staring at a crushing series defeat.
At lunch in the second Test, the tourists were 43 for four with all hopes resting on their 10,000-Test run-getter Kumar Sangakkara on 22 with Angelo Mathews not out 17.
The Australians have the luxury of eight more sessions to press on for victory after their 137-run win in last week's opening Hobart Test.
Sri Lanka had a dreadful start with three wickets tumbling in the first two overs, including out-of-form skipper Mahela Jayawardene for a duck.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne hesitated going for a second run off the third ball of the innings and David Warner pounced, with Johnson knocking down the stumps at the bowler's end and the Sri Lankan opener well short of making his ground.
Fellow opener Tillakaratne Dilshan went next ball spooning a rising Johnson delivery off his hip to Ed Cowan at bat-pad for a duck leaving Sri Lanka at two for one.
Jayawardene, who has struggled for runs away from home in the last three years, lasted just six balls before he edged Jackson Bird on to his stumps in the second over of the innings.
Jayawardene, one of only 11 players to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket, has now gone 26 innings in away Tests without making a half-century.
Thilan Samaraweera was next to go leg before wicket to Bird for one as the tourists lurched to 13 for four in the sixth over.
Earlier, Australia lasted just 5.4 overs before they were all out for 460 in their first innings early on the third day to lead Sri Lanka by 304.
Johnson was left stranded short of his second Test century on 92 not out off 150 balls.
Dhammika Prasad finished with three for 106 and Shaminda Eranga grabbed three for 109.
Shane Watson was unlikely to bowl in Sri Lanka's second innings after a fresh calf muscle injury suffered bowling on Wednesday's opening day of the Test.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 43 for 4 (Kumar Sangakkara 22*, Angelo Mathews 17*; Mitchell Johnson 1 for 7) trail Australia 460 (Michael Clarke 106, Shane Watson 83, Mitchell Johnson 92*, David Warner 62; Dhammika Prasad 3 for 106) by 304 runs
First Published: December 28, 2012, 8:18 am