NEW DELHI: Australia were struggling with three wickets down after losing Ricky Ponting and Matthew Wade in successive overs against Sri Lanka in the sixth ODI of the tri-series at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney on Friday.
Lasith Malinga had David Warner caught by Farveez Maharoof at mid-on off a slower delivery as Australia got off to a bad start.
Malinga choked Warner with unplayable deliveries throughout the over and then bowled a slow delivery as Warner gave the charge but spooned it to Maharoof at mid-on with the clear case of getting undone by the pace.
The breakthrough for Sri Lanka came in the fifth over after stand-in Australian captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat.
Australia have brought in Michael Hussey for Michael Clarke and replaced Ryan Harris with Brett Lee.
Sri Lanka have dropped Upul Tharanga for Lahiru Thirimanne and Farveez Maharoof replaces Sachithra Senanayake.
There is a hint of grass on the pitch so there will be good assistance for the seamers in spite of it being a wonderful batting surface. There are thunderstorm predictions in the later part of the day.
With Michael Clarke out nursing a hamstring strain and the selectors not too confident about vice-captain David Warner, Ponting has been handed the job he quit last year.
Australia go into the match on the back of a narrow four-wicket loss to India in their previous match. The biggest concern to emerge from the defeat was the top-order failure.
The flamboyant Warner’s fireworks didn’t last long enough and the gamble to push Ponting to the opener’s slot didn’t work either. With Clarke out, Ponting’s form would be all the more crucial in Friday’s match even though Michael Hussey’s return will bolster the line-up.
It was left to debutant Peter Forrest and David Hussey to rescue the innings in Adelaide but once they departed, the Aussies failed to build on the foundation they had laid.
A new batting talent in Forrest was unearthed and it would be interesting how the 26-year-old does tomorrow after striking an impressive half century on debut.
Lying at the bottom of the points table, the closest Sri Lanka got to a win in the series was the nerve-wrecking tie against India in their last match.
Sri Lanka have batting problems of their own to sort out. The aggressive Tillakaratne Dilshan’s bat has been uncharacteristically quiet and Kumar Sangakkara is also due to play an innings of substance.
Dinesh Chandimal and Mahela Jayawardene though batted well in the match against India but the lack of a concerted effort means that bowlers have been far too often left too little to play with.
The bowlers, on their part, have done a decent job. This was evident from the way they stifled a formidable Indian batting line-up in the previous match.
The likes of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulsekara need their batsmen to put enough runs on the board to ensure that their effort gets the team the right result.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (Capt.), David Warner, Matthew Wade, Peter Forrest, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Dan Christian, Brett Lee, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (Capt.), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirumanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath.