Melbourne: Sri Lanka's chances of reaching the tri-series finals were dealt a serious blow when Australia beat them by 24 runs in a rain-shortened CB tri-series tie at MCG here on Friday.
The visitors' gamble to bowl first -- expecting the match to be shortened by the weather -- looked to have paid off and they restricted the hosts to just 184 for seven from their 50 overs.
However, the Sri Lankan batsmen again failed to rise to the challenge and they were 77 for four when rain did stop play after 29.3 overs, leaving them well short of the required 102 under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
The Duckworth-Lewis method is system of calculating a team's score in a game that has been cut short.
The loss means Sri Lanka, having won just one of their six games in the tri-series, will have to win their last two matches, against India and Australia, to have any chance of reaching the finals.
On the other hand, Australia booked their place in the finals again with their seventh successive win over Sri Lanka.
Just one partnership was enough for Australia to win, with Mike Hussey (64 not out) and Michael Clarke (50) putting on almost half of their total with a fifth-wicket stand of 90.
Sri Lanka were always struggling in the chase after losing early wickets.
Veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya finally appears to be showing his age and the 38-year-old was the first to go, for a duck, caught by Ricky Ponting at second slip from the bowling of Stuart Clark.
Jayasuriya has just 46 runs in the series at 9.20 and was soon followed back to the pavilion by fellow opener Dilruwan Perera, who also fell to Clarke for one as the tourists slumped to three for two.
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were once again called to the rescue and set about consolidating the innings, only for the latter to be caught behind off Nathan Bracken for 27.
When Sangakkara, aware of the impending rain and trying to lift the run rate by opening his shoulders, got a leading edge and was caught for 22 by Andrew Symonds off James Hopes, Sri Lanka's hopes were all but gone.
And their fate was confirmed when the rain arrived minutes later.
Once again, Australia's bowlers had rescued their side after an indifferent batting performance.
Clark, only playing because Brett Lee was being rested, did most of the damage with 2-8 from five overs.
The home side were 54 for four before Clarke and Hussey again came to the rescue, with disciplined bowling bringing relief to some of Australia's star batsmen.
Matthew Hayden's poor series continued when he fell to Farveez Maharoof for 23, while captain Ponting's run drought continued when he was able to muster just 11 before being run out.
Ponting, dropped before he scored, has only 64 runs in the tri-series at 10.66, while Andrew Symonds has 42 runs at 8.40 after his technical flaws were exposed as he was caught behind for four from the bowling of Maharoof (2-20).
Australia's usual composure under pressure was lacking, and had the Sri Lankans been more accurate with their throws, they might have netted half a dozen run-outs.