Miserable captaincy return for Ricky Ponting as Sri Lanka crush Australia

 

Ricky Ponting's return to the Australia captaincy ended in a crushing
eight-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka following a rain-affected one-day
international in Sydney.

Sri Lanka secured their first win of the Commonwealth Bank Series in emphatic style as they first bowled Australia out for 158 before making light work of a revised chase.

Ponting's opposite number Mahela Jayawardene led the way with 61, from 66 balls, while Kumar Sangakkara became the third Sri Lankan to post 10,000 ODI runs as Sri Lanka got home with a massive 101 balls to spare.

It meant defeat for Ponting who, in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke, took over the captaincy for the first time since standing down after last year's World Cup.

The veteran endured a miserable day, adding just two to a poor series with the bat so far, although he looks set to get a chance at redemption against India on Sunday with Clarke revealing he is still struggling with a hamstring problem.

"I've got a little hamstring strain. It's on the mend. It's probably unlikely I'll be picked for Brisbane, though," he told Channel Nine.

"I've done a lot of work over the last couple of days and team physio Alex Kountouris would prefer me to rest but I'm not far away at all."

To further sour Australia's mood it was confirmed upcoming all-rounder Mitch Marsh looks set for a lengthy period on the sidelines after complaining of back pain in the SCG nets.

Sri Lanka were unconcerned by their hosts' travails, though, as they produced a bonus-point success to revive their bid to reach the final of the triangular tournament.

After sharing the wickets in an impressive display in the field, bowling out Australia for 158 with one ball left in a revised 41-over game, their batsmen opted for aggression.

The target was revised to 152 under the Duckworth-Lewis method and was always in hand when Jayawardene and former skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan crashed 74 inside the first 12 overs.

Dilshan thrashed 45 from 41 balls before he was caught at slip off Clint McKay, but Jayawardene made sure he guided his side home with a composed half-century.

Along the way Sangakkara (30) joined him in reaching 10,000 ODI runs, although the left-hander holed out off Brett Lee with just 20 needed.

Soon afterwards Jayawardene reached his 50, off 58 balls, before seeing out the win.

Earlier, Australia relied on David Hussey's battling 58 to give them any hope of victory.

Ponting's decision to bat first was immediately undermined as his side crashed to 88 for six before the rain break reduced the match to 41 overs.

Lasith Malinga made the initial breakthrough when he continued David Warner's run of low scores, the opener spooning a simple catch to Farveez Maharoof for 13.

Maharoof was in the thick of the action, claiming the wickets of Ponting, who he outfoxed with a slower ball he could only pat back, and Peter Forrest.

Forrest's stay was blighted also by a terrible mix-up which saw Matthew Wade run out while Mike Hussey edged behind off Angelo Mathews a ball after launching him for six.

Dan Christian was caught lbw by Perera just before the rain delay while Clint McKay and Brett Lee fell quickly after the restart.

Sri Lanka's only blip in the field was in dropping David Hussey twice, Malinga and Mathews the culprits, and while he embarked on a recovery mission of sorts, with 58 from 64 balls, it was not enough.

After the game Cricket Australia confirmed Clarke's absence in Brisbane and called up Twenty20 skipper George Bailey as a stand-by replacement.

"Michael Clarke is progressing well in his recovery from a right hamstring injury but remains unavailable for selection in Brisbane," Kountouris said.

"His availability for the ODI in Hobart will be determined early next week."

A statement from CA confirmed Bailey's call-up, saying: "George Bailey has been added to the Australian squad as a standby batsman for this match in Brisbane.

"While it is not ideal having to take George away from the Sheffield Shield match currently underway in Hobart, we feel it is important we have sufficient batting cover in our squad."

PA

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