The visitors then raced to 60 without loss at stumps yesterday. Shane Watson (36 not out) and Phil Hughes (23 not out) were batting virtually unthreatened when bad light stopped play.
Earlier Harris claimed three wickets and seamers Trent Copeland, Mitchell Johnson and spinner Nathan Lyon picked up two each to dismiss Sri Lanka cheaply.
Australia batsman Mike Hussey – who also took the key wicket of Kumar Sangakkara – was full of praise for the bowlers for restricting the hosts to such a low total.
“I think it’s a testament the way our bowlers have gone about their work. They have been very patient and very disciplined,” Hussey said. “It’s a good surface (but) it’s a little slow and so it’s hard to get your timing right – but it’s only as good as the bowlers bowl.
“We had a very good day, the bowlers did a fantastic job. The batters should stand up and bat for a long period of time and set the challenge … . We will really try and bat well and play Sri Lanka out of the game.”
Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan acknowledged his batsmen were making the same mistakes, despite trying hard.
“This is a good wicket, we can’t expect to get out for 174 playing seven batsmen,” Dilshan said. “There is something wrong with the batting, we are talking, discussing and doing a lot of hard work at training, it’s now time to deliver. We can’t say the wicket is bad or their bowling is good.
Got out cheaply
“We can’t wait any more, this is the third time we’ve got out cheaply.”
Angelo Mathews top scored for the hosts with 58, but only three other players made double figures.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first but soon fell into trouble on a pitch that offered early help for seam bowling.
Harris removed opener Tharanga Paranavitana (0) caught behind in the third over. The left-hander played at a delivery moving away from him and the ball took a slight edge through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Dilshan (4) left a delivery from Copeland alone, but the ball nipped back sharply to hit off stump. Copeland then had Mahela Jayawardene (4) caught by Hussey diving at gully to leave the hosts at 14-3.
Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera shared 43 runs to raise hopes of a revival by the hosts, but Harris returned to have Samaraweera (17) caught by Haddin, and Prasanna Jayawardene (18) joined the procession back to the pavilion, caught by Harris off the bowling of spinner Lyon.
Sangakkara was dismissed by part-time seamer Hussey for 48, including seven boundaries.
Mathews brought up his fourth Test fifty by lofting Harris over long-on for a six. He was out caught by Haddin off Johnson shortly after, having faced 111 balls, hitting three sixes and six fours.
Shaun Marsh received his first test cap for Australia from his father, former Test opener Geoff Marsh. He replaced Ricky Ponting who returned home for the birth of his second child after playing the first Test.