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Ponting fails to find winning formula

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Mahela Jayawardene

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene plays a pivotal role as Sri Lanka finally won their first game of the CB Series, scoring a fluent half-century this morning

Ricky Ponting’s return to the Australia captaincy ended in a crushing eight-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in a rain-affected one-day international at Sydney.

Sri Lanka secured their first win of the Commonwealth Bank Series in emphatic style as they bowled Australia out for 158 before making light work of a revised chase.

Ponting’s opposite number Mahela Jayawardene led the way with a 66-ball 61, and Kumar Sangakkara became the third Sri Lankan to post 10,000 ODI runs as the tourists got home with a massive 101 balls to spare.

It meant defeat for Ponting who, in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke, took over the captaincy for the first time since standing down after last year’s World Cup.

The veteran endured a miserable day, adding just two to a poor series with the bat so far, although he looks set to get a chance at redemption against India on Sunday, with Clarke out once again at Brisbane.

In a statement released by Cricket Australia, team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said: “Michael Clarke is progressing well in his recovery from a right hamstring injury but remains unavailable for selection in Brisbane.

“His availability for the ODI in Hobart will be determined early next week.”

The statement also confirmed Twenty20 skipper George Bailey’s call-up, saying: “George Bailey has been added to the Australian squad as a standby batsman for this match in Brisbane.

“While it is not ideal having to take George away from the Sheffield Shield match currently underway in Hobart, we feel it is important we have sufficient batting cover in our squad.”

To further sour Australia’s mood, it was confirmed upcoming all-rounder Mitchell Marsh looks set for a lengthy period on the sidelines after complaining of back pain in the SCG nets.

Sri Lanka were unconcerned by their hosts’ travails, though, as they produced a bonus-point success to revive their bid to reach the final of the triangular tournament.

After sharing the wickets during an impressive display in the field, bowling out Australia for 158 with one ball left in a revised 41-over game, their batsmen opted for aggression.

Thisara Perera

Thisara Perera, who took 2-29 with the ball, shows some athleticism in the field as Sri Lanka dismiss Australia for a meagre 158 in Sydney

The target, revised to 152 under the Duckworth/Lewis method, was always in hand when Jayawardene and former skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan put 74 on the board inside the first 12 overs.

Dilshan thrashed 45 from 41 balls before he was caught at slip off Clint McKay, but Jayawardene made sure he guided his side home with a composed half-century.

Along the way Sangakkara impressed, although the left-hander holed out off Brett Lee for 30 with just 20 needed.

Soon afterwards, Jayawardene reached his fifty, off 58 balls, before seeing out the win.

Earlier, Australia relied on David Hussey’s battling 58 to give them any hope of victory.

Ponting’s decision to bat first was immediately undermined as his side crashed to 88 for six before the rain break reduced the match.

Lasith Malinga made the initial breakthrough when he continued David Warner’s run of low scores, the opener spooning a simple catch to Farveez Maharoof for 13.

Maharoof was in the thick of the action, claiming the wickets of Ponting, who he outfoxed with a slower ball he could only pat back, and Peter Forrest.

Forrest’s stay was blighted also by a terrible mix-up which saw Matthew Wade run out, and Mike Hussey edged behind off Angelo Mathews a ball after launching him for six.

Dan Christian was trapped leg before by Thisara Perera just before the rain delay, with Clint McKay and Brett Lee falling quickly after the restart.

Sri Lanka’s only blip in the field was in dropping David Hussey twice - Malinga and Mathews the culprits - and, while the batsman embarked upon a recovery mission, his 64-ball stay proved in vain.