Mahela Jayawardene hit a classy 105 but his fine effort was upstaged by fast-bowler Ryan Harris, who claimed five wickets as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 125 runs in the first Test to take the lead in the three-match series.
Sri Lanka, who resumed the fourth day at 120 for five chasing an improbable 379, were dismissed for 253 in their second-innings. Angelo Mathews supported Jayawardene with a fighting 95 to hold off Australia, but the rest of the batting caved in.
It was Michael Clarke's first Test win as captain and also helped Ponting set a new benchmark of becoming the first cricketer to have been part of 100 Test victories.
Jayawardene and Mathews, who came together at 68 for five, put on 142 in a courageous fightback. Jayawardene notched up his 29th century with the help of 15 boundaries.
Mathews showed why he was regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in the game even though he narrowly missed his maiden Test century.
The stand was broken when Jayawardene inside-edged a delivery from Harris on to his stumps after lunch. Mitchell Johnson had Suraj Randiv fending a catch to second slip, while Mathews was bowled by Shane Watson attempting a big hit.
Captains blast pitch
Meanwhile, rival captains Clarke and Tillakaratne Dilshan blasted the dry pitch. Clarke said he had never played on a tougher pitch than the dustbowl prepared at Galle.
"Day one felt like day five," said Clarke. "I hate to see a Test being determined by the toss. It was prepared for their spinners and that backfired. I was fortunate I won the toss."
A disappointed Dilshan said he was not expecting to play on such a dry surface.
"Usually, the pitch here is good for both seamers and spinners but I think it was too dry and made batting difficult," said Dilshan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.