Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka celebrates taking the wicket of David Hussey. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
Australia’s top-order capitulations on seaming decks have forced captain Michael Clarke to concede his men need to start performing on all wickets – not just flat decks that favour batsmen.
With an Ashes tour on seam-friendly England wickets headlining a monster 18 months of cricket for Australia, the ability to play the moving ball has become a major headache.
Gentle Sri Lankan medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekara, who ripped Australia apart with five wickets in Friday night’s humiliating total of 74 at the Gabba, again was on song in Sunday’s SCG washout.
Umpire Marais Erasmus suspends play as rain beings to fall. Photo: Brendon Thorne
The 30-year-old finished with 3-30, including the prized scalp of Clarke (20) and opener Phil Hughes (1), again getting the ball to hoop into right-handers with great success.
The triple disappointments of the top order in Adelaide, where the hosts slumped to 6-83, the Gabba, where they were bowled out for their lowest total since 1986, and the SCG, where after 12.1 overs they were again struggling at 3-53, prompted Clarke to tell his teammates to overcome the perception they were simply flat track bullies.
‘‘You need to be able to perform not just on good wickets but on tough wickets as well,’’ he said.
Nuwan Kulasekara celebrates the wicket of Australia's captain Michael Clarke. Photo: Reuters
‘‘I think there’s areas of our game that all of us need to improve especially when there’s a bit of movement.
‘‘The last three wickets have probably swung and seamed as much as I’ve seen in limited overs cricket, but that’s not an excuse for poor performance.
‘‘Our top four needs to find a way to set a platform to build a good total.’’
David Warner of Australia reacts after being given out for lbw. Photo: Brendon Thorne
The bulk of Australia’s 9-222 total came from the blades of opener David Warner (60) and tailender Mitchell Starc (52 not out off 37 balls) – both impressing Clarke.
‘‘I thought Davey played really well. It’s nice to see him make some more runs for us,’’ he said.
‘‘And I thought Mitchell Starc with the bat was outstanding as well.’’
But the Australians weren’t helped by two blunders from the on-field officials who prematurely ended the innings of Warner and Moises Henriques (3).
On both occasions the batsmen were given out lbw, despite replays showing clear inside edges prior to hitting the pads, and Australia slumped to 6-130 with the consecutive dismissals.
Neither was able to use the decision review system because Clarke had burned Australia’s only challenge with a frivolous query of an lbw of his own - which was upheld.
Warner, whose 60 is his highest ODI score in nearly 10 months, was particularly seething at the officiating error, thumping his bat in frustration as he glared at umpire Marais Erasmus on his walk back to the pavilion.
With Sri Lanka up 2-1 in the five-game series, Clarke admitted he was disappointed that Australia was now no longer had a chance to win the series - only draw it in Hobart on Wednesday.
‘‘I’d rather see us lose the game than not get a result at all,’’ he said.
Sri Lanka reached 0-14, with openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (nine not out) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (four not out) successfully negotiating the first 3.2 overs in reply before rain set in about 7pm.
Rain stopped falling roughly an hour before the match was called off at 9pm, the outfield considered too wet for play.
Both captains were told the light rain was more troublesome than heavy rain, that would’ve soaked into the SCG turf and been drained away.
Instead the drizzle sat on the surface and, with no sunlight or wind to impact it, caused a premature end to the fixture. AAP