Rudi Koertzen's incorrect call helped end the game early by extinguishing Kumar Sangakkara's innings on 192 © AFP

Rudi Koertzen apologised to Kumar Sangakkara for the mistake that prevented the batsman from reaching a seventh double-century and extinguished the slim chance Sri Lanka had of levelling the series in Hobart. Sangakkara, who swept to 192 in a brutal and beautiful innings, missed a pull shot off Stuart Clark and was hit on the shoulder and helmet before the ball floated towards Ricky Ponting at second slip.

The two noises convinced the Australians to appeal and Sangakkara angled his head in disbelief when the decision came. He stood his ground briefly before walking off in disappointment, but exchanged back-slaps with Koertzen after the 96-run defeat.

"Rudi came and said sorry to him," Mahela Jayawardene said. "But that's it. Kumar being Kumar was fine with it. He was very disappointed at the particular moment, but when you sit back after half an hour, you know it's a mistake made by a human and that's it."

Sangakkara's bat was a long way from the ball when it hit his shoulder, but Ponting said he was certain it was out. "We all reacted on the two noises we heard at the time," Ponting said. "It sounded like it was either glove or bat and up into his helmet. As we all know, things happen pretty quickly on the field, especially when there's a bouncer being bowled to a batsman like that."

It was the second contentious catching decision of the match involving Sangakkara. In the first innings he edged to Michael Hussey in the gully, but was ruled not out by the third umpire. Ponting, who has given up trying to set up an international honesty system on catches, said the low-to-the-ground takes should always be judged by the on-field officials.

"The other captains wanted to have the replay referral system, which I don't think is right because as we've seen in this game, 100% of them are given not out," he said. "I think there's only been one that's been given to the third umpire that's been given out and I don't think that's right because then you will get batsmen just standing there all the time. That is not what the game is all about."

Despite Ponting's push for a deal on unclear low catches to uphold the spirit of the game, Australia's fielders did not attempt to reverse incorrect "out" decisions by the umpires during the series. When it comes to ruling on whether the batsmen hit the ball they believe the official's decision is final. "The umpire gave it out, that's what happened today," Ponting said. "There was no dispute over the catch."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo