Sri Lankan bowlers tie down Australia's top order

Published: Friday, February 22, 2008, 14:12 [IST]
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Australi's top order woes continued as they made 184 for seven against Sri Lanka in the tri-series one-day match here on Friday.

The home side slumped to 54 for four before Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey again came to the rescue to help them build a competitive total.

Hussey held the innings together with an unbeaten 64, while Clarke has been the one Australian batsman in form in the tri-series and made 50, the pair putting on 90 for the fifth wicket mainly through brilliant running.

It wasn't until Clarke hit a six and a four in successive balls from Lasith Malinga in the 38th over that the Australian run rate climbed above three.

The Sri Lankans won the toss and boldly elected to bowl first, concerned that the heavy skies could lead to the match being shortened.

Although the rain held off, their decision was rewarded when disciplined bowling again undone some of Australia's star batsmen.

The rot started early for the Australians, with opener Adam Gilchrist advancing down the track and being clean bowled for six during an impressive opening spell by fellow veteran Chaminda Vaas (1-34).

Matthew Hayden's indifferent series continued when he fell to Farveez Maharoof for 23, while Ricky Ponting's run drought continued when he was able to muster just 11 before being run out.

The Australian captain again looked out of sorts at the crease and was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan at backward point before he scored.

However, his luck run out when he was involved in a mix-up with Clarke and was run out.

Maharoof dived and stopped a Ponting push in his follow through and although his throw at the stumps at the striker's end just missed, wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara was able to take it and whip off the bails as the batsman tried to get back into his crease.

That took Ponting's tally for the tri-series to 64 runs at 10.66.

Andrew Symonds might have been worth a small fortune to Indian Premier League Twenty20 side Hyderabad, but his obvious technical flaws were again exposed as he was caught behind for four.

Symonds didn't move his feet at all against a rising delivery from Maharoof, who rebounded from a terrible bowling performance against India on Tuesday to claim 2-20 from his 10 overs, and got an inside edge to Sangakkara.

The powerful Australian all-rounder has just 42 runs at 8.40 in the tri-series.

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.

Clarke would have been run out comfortably by a direct hit from mid-on before he had scored and it proved to be a costly miss for the Sri Lankans.

The right-hander went on to bring up his half-century from 67 balls, with only four boundaries, but was caught and bowled by Muttiah Muralitharan without adding to his score.

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