Ricky Pontings' all-conquering Australians overpowered a beleaguered Sri Lankan outfit, winning a predictably one-sided contest by a massive 142 runs at the WACA on Sunday night.

During the afternoon the Australian batsman, led by stand-in opener Darren Lehmann, who scored his third one-day century, ran riot, setting the confidence-short tourists a daunting 306 target.

Their new bowlers, Glen McGrath with his metronomic accuracy and Brett Lee with his searing pace, who grabbed three wickets, then exploited the tourist 's well documented weakness against top class fast bowling on quick and bouncy pitches.

Sri Lanka, whose preparations for the 2003 World Cup are going from bad to worse, were never in the hunt after another lacklustre performance by their middle order and they were eventually bowled out for 163 in 43 overs.

The win moved Australia into pole position in the VB Series table with 17 points and a game to spare over England on 12 points.

Australia, missing Shane Warne (shoulder) and Adam Gilchrist (groin) through injury, never looked like losing the game after a 162 run opening partnership between Matthew Hayden and Lehmann.

Lehmann, provided the vice-captaincy in the absence of Gilchrist, laid the foundations for the mammoth Australian score, hitting a commanding run-a-ball 119 that included 12 fours and one six.

The 32-year-old left-hander, who normally bats in the middle order, made full use of the early over fielding restrictions with a clever combination of improvised deflections and brute force.

Hayden, sedate in comparison but typically powerful, provided solid support scoring 64 from 68 balls and Australia looked set for a stratospheric score at the mid-way point of the first innings.

The tourists, however, clawed their way back during the second half of the innings thanks to a spirited performance from fast bowlers Prabath Nissanka (three for 54) and Dilhara Fernando (one for 55).

Nissanka grabbed the wickets of Ponting (17), Lehmann and Damien Martyn (7) in quick succession before Fernando chimed in with the wicket of entertaining wicket-keeper batsman Ryan Campbell (16).

Nevertheless, despite the mid-innings wobble that saw Australia slip to 253 for five, one-day specialist Michael Bevan (40 from 41 balls) and Shane Watson (25 from 22 balls) finished the innings strongly with an unbroken 52-run sixth wicket stand.

Sri Lanka clearly needed a lightening start if they were ever going to challenge the Australian total but McGrath and Lee quickly crushed such faint hopes as the visitors slumped to 20 for three.

Out-of-form opener Jayasuriya scored just three before chipping a catch to mid-wicket, Marvan Atapattu (15) was caught off an inside edge and young Jehan Mubarak (4) sliced into the gully.

Mahela Jaywardene (21) and Russel Arnold (15) - the only two Sri Lankan batsmen to perform thus far in the series - steadied the innings briefly, adding 35 runs in six overs.

However, a brilliant catch by man of the match Lehmann off his own bowling to dismiss Jayawardene was quickly followed by the demise of Arnold, who top edged a slog-sweep off rookie spinner Brad Hogg.

With Sri Lanka having slipped to 62 for five in the 18th over, Kumar Sangakkara (40) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (35) were left fighting for pride only as the contest petered out into another drab finale.

Sri Lanka will, at least, be provided with an opportunity to regroup as the tournament breaks to allow for Australia and England to complete their Ashes Test series. The tri-series resumes on Jan 9.

By then Sri Lanka will have been reinforced by the arrival of batting legend Aravinda de Silva and the return to full fitness of Muttiah Muralitharan, who has been out of action after a hernia operation.