Australia v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Sydney January 20, 2013

Australia's batting exposed before wash-out


Australia 9 for 222 (Warner 60, Starc 52*, Kulasekara 3-30) v Sri Lanka 0 for 14 - match abandoned
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

If it wasn't 74, it still wasn't pretty. Australia's batsmen were again exposed by the moving ball in the hands of Sri Lanka's seamers before the fourth ODI at the SCG was washed out.

The Sri Lankan chase was at first delayed, then abandoned due to an outfield tardy in drying, after only 3.2 overs. At 0 for 14, the visitors stood a strong chance of overhauling the target and claiming the series.

As it is, Australia are left with a feeling as unsatisfying as that experienced by the 22,521 spectators who were informed of the abandonment around 9pm local time. There are plenty of recurring questions about the hosts' batting and they can no longer win the series themselves, their best hope a 2-2 tie after the final match in Hobart on Friday.

Taking strike under overcast skies at the SCG after Michael Clarke won the toss, the Australians were confounded once more by the swing of Nuwan Kulasekara and a fast, swerving spell from Lasith Malinga. Rangana Herath wheeled away in a typically fastidious stint of slow left-arm.

Kulasekara's 3 for 30 was another immaculate display of swing at a shade sharper than medium pace, giving him a series return of 10 wickets at 12.90 thus far. It would take a particularly unobservant English seamer not to notice those numbers ahead of the Ashes.

Of the batsmen only David Warner looked secure at the crease, though Mitchell Starc won the admiration of the SCG for a doughty rearguard. Australia's struggles were heightened by a pair of poor decisions from the umpires Marais Erasmus and Paul Reiffel after Clarke had burned his team's sole DRS referral with a wishful request to overturn his own lbw verdict.

Needing to win the match to avoid a series defeat in four matches, Clarke named a team unchanged from the XI who were reduced to a humiliating 9 for 40 in Brisbane on Friday. Kulasekara had rended Australia's batting at the Gabba, and he was to make critical breakthroughs again in Sydney. First he drifted a ball across Phillip Hughes, opening up the left-hander and coaxing an edge through to Chandimal, who took the gloves while Kushal Perera remained in the XI as a batsman.

Clarke and Warner prospered for a time, Sri Lanka wasting their one review on an optimistic lbw appeal against the latter, but the ball continued to curve and at 50, the captain played around a delivery that moved into him and was pinned in front of the stumps. His attempt to have the call overturned showed only that the ball had struck him in line and would have plucked middle stump.

A twitchy David Hussey was set up and knocked down by Malinga, who pushed the batsman back with a series of well-directed short balls then conjured an away swinger that found the edge and was held on the juggle by Lahiru Thirimanne in the slips. Hussey's No. 4 post in the batting order appeared a position or two higher than his technique can presently stand.

Bailey played down the line at similar deliveries bending away late and, after struggling to score early, started to form a useful stand with Warner, who played with calm, precision and power throughout. However, Herath teased out a presumptuous drive by Bailey, leaving Warner the hosts' only hope of a decent tally.

This was a strong innings by Warner, who punched a pair of superb cover drives through Herath's neatly set fields. But on 60, he played Thisara Perera from the crease and was struck on the pads via an inside edge which was both audible and visible. This deflection somehow evaded Erasmus' detection, and Warner could barely contain his fury when marching off the ground.

The New South Wales allrounder Moises Henriques was similarly wronged by Reiffel when Herath won an LBW verdict from a ball pitching in line and straightening but also taking bat before pad, leaving Clarke and the rest of the dressing room to ponder the use of their one ODI referral in future.

Starc and Matthew Wade resisted in the latter overs, but their efforts succeeded only in lifting Australia from the embarrassing to the merely mediocre - hardly the bar Clarke's team had been striving to reach after their Brisbane misadventures. The rain offered plenty of time to ponder their shortcomings.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jason on January 22, 2013, 0:31 GMT

    The thing is, Daniel Brettig, that we (that includes you) only got to see one side bat. We have no idea how difficult the Sri Lankans may have found it had they been batting. In fact, if you took out two of the Lankan batters with poor umpiring decisions, they might have fared considerably worse than what Australia did. This is a poor article lacking in perspective.

  • Graham on January 21, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Trav696 - Yes I do the 50 over game they use two new balls and the ball is new a lot longer. Do you know what quality batting is? Dilshan has been a spud all tour, looks like getting out every ball. Perera looks promising but two games with a high score of 22 you couldnt use the word great. Chandimal been out injured for a coule of games and blunts your momentum and Thiriman e due a failure. You cant rely on Angelo Matthews to get a run. Yes at 220 Australia was in the box seat, the D/L would have worked to make it heaps easier for Sri Lanka so if you think about it, it would have been a hollow victory. If the show was on the other foot and they played we would be greeted with outrage from the Sri Lankan fans.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    I'll be damed if Australia wins the 5th one and it turns out to be a 2-2 pointless tie

  • trev on January 21, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    @OneEyedAussie, haha, they sprinted off because they used their heads. Aus won the toss and batted first, but SL was always going to bowl first thinking about getting the D/L method to come their way when batting. When the opportunity arised, the went off to field in the hope of actually coming back on. They couldn't see either... the drizzle was distracting them. Mate, even if it didn't rain, we would have chased 200 down. SL wouldn't have had to do anything reckless, so they would have kept wickets in tact and won in the end. Aus put on an act in the end anyway saying that they wanted to come back on and 'defend' that total. Clarke knew and deep down, his team knew they couldn't defend it. Hope SL don't give Aus a chance in the 5th and seal the series 3-1, giving them a victory they were robbed of in the 4th.

  • trev on January 21, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @Shaggy076, firstly, do you know the difference between a five day match consisting of roughly 90 overs per day and a ODI with 50 overs for each side?? The test series has nothing to do with the ODI series. Sri Lanka's line up is much better in the ODI's and we are a far better side in the shorter format. The shorter the format, the better the game goes. Because of the D/L method, it would have turned out to be a T20, only needing 6 runs per over or less. SL are ranked No.1 in T20 by a mile, and you mean to say with TEN wickets in the shed, we can't chase down about 120, no make it 130 as you say. Dilshan, Chandimal, Kushal Perera, Thirimanne are all in great form with the bat this series. We chased down Aus' total in the 2nd ODI with 8 wickets in hand... I admit we failed in the 1st but we were only warming up and in the 3rd, we were in a hurry to finish the game off. SL wouldn't have been in a rush to finish the 4th and would have steadily reached Aus' total. Watch out in the 5th.

  • Graham on January 21, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    Bearface - Sri Lanka were bowled out twice in Melbourne test on a great pitch for under 200. THe pitch didnt matter then nor would it this game. Yes the pitch was good and Sri Lanka bowling was excellent but anything could have happened in the second innings and Aussie fans were rightly confident before the rain that they would win.

  • Graham on January 21, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    LukeCannon - THe team is not over-hyped, and its much maligned locally because fans are missing the greats that were irreplacable. They are a good solid side thats developing however with a greater importance on the longer game or the World Cup. This series is immaterial to either of those however I still expect that we will bounce back and draw this series. I like Sri Lanka and know they will always give a great competetive performance, they have a lot of good short form cricketers and harbour no grudges to Sri Lanka but their is no malicious intent from Cricket Australia or no injustices towards Sri Lanka.

  • Brady on January 21, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    Wow! the SL fans sure are confident - even more than the Captain of their cricket team. I seem to recall him sprinting off the field at the sight of a drops of moisture, must have been a bit worried about chasing over 200 knowing that if he and Dilshan are dismissed the whole thing could come to pieces.

    He seemed pretty keen to get the game going when it 100-odd with 10 wickets in hand at 6 per over though - funny how that works.

  • Simon on January 21, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Sri Lanka should be happy at this. Now they cannot lose the series, whatever happens in Hobart! It was an even contest at the time, perhaps tending to the side of Sri Lanka, but what annoys me is that cricket fans all over the world were deprived of a tight match between two evenly matched teams. That, rather than the result, is the most important factor to be taken out of this sham.

  • Zammam on January 21, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Sri Lankans saying we could of won easily are not right and Australia fans saying they could of won is just as silly. Anything could of happened. We have chased down bigger targets with ease before and we have also collapsed in chases before. What we should ask as cricket fans is why the game was cancelled and not argue about who would of won. I personally would of rather the game being played and lose than no game at all due to an 'unfair advantage' which is not even in the rules.

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