Michael Hussey narrowly missed out on a century as Australia were dismissed for 273 on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
Hussey was last to go for 95 after overseeing the tourists' recovery from 112-4 in the second half of the day.
Heavy overnight rain caused a delayed start and Australia - who handed debuts to paceman Trent Copeland and spinner Nathan Lyon - lost both openers within the first 10 overs after opting to bat on a lively pitch.
Shane Watson (22) was well held by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene from a thin outside edge to give left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (3-54) the opening breakthrough.
Phillip Hughes soon followed for 12, edging to first slip after being surprised by some extra bounce from Suranga Lakmal (3-55).
Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, Australia captains of the past and present, regrouped with the highest partnership of the innings, a 55-run stand for the third wicket either side of lunch.
But Herath dismissed both, Clarke (23) given out lbw after a successful referral and Ponting (44) lofting to extra cover after advancing down the track, to leave the visitors in trouble in early afternoon.
Usman Khawaja (21) was another batsman to fall after a promising start, bowled by an inswinger from Chanaka Welegedera (1-61).
Brad Haddin helped Australia through to tea on 157-5 and Hussey completed a 115-ball half-century early in the final session.
Haddin's departure for 24, caught at short-leg off spinner Suraj Randiv (2-76), prompted Hussey to chance his arm with only the tail left for company.
The left-hander dispatched three sixes and had moved within five of a century before he was lbw to Tillakaratne Dilshan (1-22) to end the innings.
There was still one over scheduled in the day but, after Sri Lanka's openers had made their way to the middle, the umpires decided the light was too poor and the players left the field.