'Work to do with Powerplay, death bowling' - Clarke
Australia have finally broken their three-tournament long run of losing the first game of the three-match final series at home, but Michael Clarke wasn't exactly thrilled. Having posted 321, Australia had Sri Lanka at 6 for 144, but in the face of an onslaught from the Sri Lanka lower order the bowling disintegrated, bringing back memories of the heist pulled off by Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga two years ago. Clarke said that his side would have to prove itself better than tonight if it is to stay No. 1 in ODIs and, in the short term, win in Adelaide, where conditions will suit Sri Lanka more.
Clarke was pleased with the batting, especially with the way David Warner played through the innings, but the team's bowling remains a worry. "A lot of work to do with our Powerplay bowling and death bowling, as we have spoken about as a team," Clarke said. "Hasn't been good enough throughout the series, and unfortunately it continues to let us down."
Clarke was in no mood to make allowances, even for a wet ball. "You might make an exception, but I won't make an exception," he said. "We have got to be better than that. We are the No. 1 one-day team in the world. We have got to execute our skills better than that."
He admitted that the pressure has been getting to his bowlers whenever they have been run close in a chase. "I just think we are not executing our skills to be honest," Clarke said. "They practise all their different variations in the nets. But under pressure, at the moment, we are not executing. That's been the difference, I think, between us playing some great cricket throughout this series and playing [only] good enough cricket to win the games. The other area [of concern], like I said, was [the need for] somebody in the top four going on to make a hundred, and fortunately Davey did that for us this afternoon."
Clarke did give Nuwan Kulasekara credit, but made it clear that he wanted more from his bowlers. "Again it's [about] execution," Clarke said. "It's very hard when somebody is playing as well as he [Kulasekara] was, and is hitting the ball as cleanly. If you are just a bit off, you go for a boundary. Credit to him, he batted really well. But we have got to find a way to hit our areas better under pressure."
The tight schedule means Australia don't get much time to work on what has been missing. They travel to Adelaide and then, within 24 hours, they begin the second final. "We are not going to have much time to train," Clarke said. "The guys know it. Hopefully tonight will have helped us, hopefully not executing tonight now allows you [the players] to understand that as a team every single one of us needs to be better than that. Generally that's the biggest part of it: getting your mind to a place where you know you need to be on top of your game the whole way through the 100 overs, against a very good one-day team."
Edited by Nikita Bastian
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo