ADELAIDE - Australia are determined to close out the tri one-day series finals against Sri Lanka, allrounder David Hussey said on Monday. The top-ranked Australians take a one-nil lead into Tuesday's pivotal match in Adelaide in the best-of-three match finals after a too close for comfort victory in Sunday's opening game in Brisbane.
Australia beat Sri Lanka by just 15 runs despite setting the World Cup finalists 322 to chase for victory and leaving skipper Michael Clarke concerned about his team's ability to close out ODI matches. Hussey, who took four for 43 with his off-spin in Sri Lanka's innings, said the Australians were desperate to kill off the finals series in consecutive matches.
"This is a chance to win a series -- not all of us have actually won a series in Australia in one-day international cricket," Hussey told reporters. "So it's very important we actually close out the series in a professional manner." Australia were at full stretch to contain some late lusty Sri Lankan hitting after Mahela Jayawardene's men had clawed back from 144 for six in the 31st over after looking headed for a big loss.
Nuwan Kulasekara slammed 73 from 43 balls and Upul Tharanga hit 60 from 67 to get Sri Lanka within sight of a remarkable victory before last man Lasith Malinga was dismissed with four balls left. Hussey said Australia's bowlers failed to deliver on their plans. "The conditions were a bit greasy and it was very hard to stand up for the fast bowlers," he said.
"But if we can just execute our skills ... I think we will go a long way to winning the game. I thought we played three-quarters of the perfect game last night and hopefully there is a perfect game just around the corner." Explosive opening batsman David Warner faces a pre-match fitness test for Australia ahead of Tuesday's second final.
Warner is in doubt with a sore groin injured during his man-of-the-match 163 from 157 balls which prevented him from fielding in Sri Lanka's innings. Should Warner not play vice-captain Shane Watson is in line for a possible return to the opening position and Peter Forrest could be recalled after missing the Brisbane game. "We all hope he (Warner) is up and firing tomorrow," Hussey said. "It was a fantastic innings and all the boys hope he can replicate that."
Australian skipper Michael Clarke berated his much-vaunted bowling attack as not good enough ahead of the second one-day international final against Sri Lanka in Adelaide.
Australia beat Sri Lanka by just 15 runs in the first of the best-of-three finals series on Sunday in Brisbane despite setting 322 for victory, and Clarke admitted his team's bowling had been disappointing. "A win is a win, but we have a lot of work to do with our power play and death bowling," a frustrated Clarke said after the match.
"It hasn't been good enough all series. It continues to let us down. We are the number one one-day team and we have to be better than that." Australia reduced Sri Lanka to 144-6 in the run chase under lights at the Gabba before Nuwan Kulasekara (73) and Upul Tharanga (60) attacked Australia's pace quartet of Brett Lee, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Dan Christian.
The tourists came close and only some tight bowling by Shane Watson in the final overs denied the Sri Lankans an unlikely victory. "Hopefully that (scare) allows us to understand that we have to be better than that," Clarke said.
Pace spearhead Lee went for three for 59 from his nine overs, but the efforts of Hilfenhaus and Pattinson will be causing Clarke the most concern ahead of Tuesday's game in Adelaide. Hilfenhaus conceded 46 runs from just four overs and Pattinson was only slightly better, going for 49 runs from five. "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 Australian skipper said Kulasekara played cleanly in Brisbane to hit seven boundaries and three sixes and help bring his team back into contention.
"Credit to him, he batted really well, but we have got to find a way to hit our areas better under pressure," he said. Clarke will be sweating on the fitness of opener David Warner, who suffered a groin injury during his magnificent 163 on Sunday.
Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who has had to deal with a raft of injury problems in his squad, including big hitting Angelo Mathews, was more upbeat after the game than the winning captain. "It shows a lot of character that we got back into it," Jayawardene said. "Obviously we didn't play a perfect game today, with the ball. The first five/six overs we didn't put enough pressure on them."
"Some of the boys showed some real character and kept fighting, which is something you want to cultivate in the team. But unfortunately we are 1-0 down in a three-match final and we need to improve to beat them."