Sydney: Sri Lanka were the second best side at last year's World Cup but captain Mahela Jayawardene has admitted that a continuing inability to beat Australia is becoming a major concern.
On Friday, in the first one-day clash between the sides since Australia won the World Cup final last April, the home side once again proved too good, winning their tri-series match by 128 runs after bowling the Sri Lankans out for a paltry 125 in just 31.3 overs.
The Aussies have now won their last five one-day matches against Sri Lanka, and seven of their last eight clashes.
Star wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara raised his game, averaging 10 more with the bat against the world champions in one-day cricket than his career average, and did so again with a sparkling 42 on Friday.
But it was a solo effort. Sangakkara's teammates couldn't handle relentless Australian pressure, losing their last eight wickets for just 68 runs in a spectacular collapse.
Jayawardene said his side boasted plenty of talent but admitted some players were intimidated by the Australians.
"On the last few occasions they have got the better of us," he said.
"We just need to make sure that we stand up for that and show a bit more character.
"The group of players that we've got has the ability to beat Australia definitely, but everyone needs to believe in that."
Jayawardene, who threw his wicket away with a rash shot, said the Sri Lankans needed to remain composed under pressure and maintain their self-belief.
"Those were the things that we've been talking about and getting everyone's heads together," he said.
"We don't want the lineup to be too negative because we have a very talented group of players so we just need to make sure they get their heads in the right place."
Australian captain Ricky Ponting also noted Australia's apparent dominance of the Sri Lankans and queried whether they were capable of bouncing back.
"We've dominated them a lot, so tonight was another step forward for us," Ponting said.
"To have a comprehensive victory like that at the start of a one-day series is always good and hopefully we can stay on top of them for the rest of the series."
Sri Lanka is at the bottom of the tri-series table after two matches, with their next game against India in Canberra on Tuesday.
Another loss would make it hard for Sri Lanka to reach the finals of the tri-series.