Australian captain Michael Clarke again failed with the bat as his side lost their first Twenty20 game at home in their one-off international against Sri Lanka at the WACA in Perth yesterday.
After winning the toss and batting first, the home side, featuring only four players expected to play key roles in the upcoming Ashes series, struggled to 133-8, after slumping to 43-5 in the 11th over.
Sri Lanka cruised to 133-3 in reply, winning with 21 balls to spare, inflicting Australia’s first home defeat in 11 matches.
Clarke went into the game under pressure to retain his spot in the Australia side in the shortest form of the game, as he is averaging just over 20 in the format.
He promoted himself to the top of the order and the move very nearly backfired on the second ball he faced, with an inside-edge just missing the stumps.
Clarke should then have been run out on 2, when he was sent back by Dave Warner and was well out of his ground as the throw by Tillakaratne Dilshan from close range somehow missed.
The 29-year-old briefly looked as if he would capitalize on the good fortune, hitting Dilhara Fernando through mid-wicket for four, before lofting Muttiah Muralitharan, playing his last game in Perth, down the ground for six in the next over.
However, on 16 his luck ran out when he lobbed a mistimed drive off Thisara Perera (2-22) down to long-on, where a back-pedaling Dilhara Fernando — who had started the rot when he had Warner caught at mid-off for 2 — misjudged the flight of the ball, but stuck out his right hand to cleanly snare a remarkable catch.
It got much worse though, with Perera then claiming Test opener Shane Watson for 4 and David Hussey (7) and Cameron White (8) both going cheaply as Australia collapsed to 43-5.
Brad Haddin (35) and Steven Smith (34) then came to the rescue, their 66-run partnership at least giving Australia a modestly competitive total.
The Sri Lankans had few problems overhauling it though, with captain Kumar Sangakkara unbeaten on 44 and Dilshan making 41.
Pakistan players Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir had their provisional suspensions over allegations of spot-fixing upheld by the International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday.
Butt and Amir were appealing for their bans to be lifted.
“I have decided to dismiss the applications ... all three players accordingly are still for the time being unable to participate in cricketing activities,” the head of the ICC’s code of conduct commission, Michael Beloff, told reporters.
The innocence or guilt of the players will be judged at an independent tribunal, the date of which has yet to be set.
“Their cases will go forward to the anti-corruption tribunal, who will adjudicate as soon as practical upon whether the several charges made against them are proved,” Beloff said.