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SCG ODI match washed out
By Joe Barton
22:02 AEST Sun Jan 20 2013

Rain robbed Sri Lanka of the chance to wrap up their one day international series with Australia on Sunday, after two umpiring howlers and another top order collapse restricted the hosts to just 9-222 at the SCG.

Up 2-1 in the five-game series, Sri Lanka reached 0-14, with openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (nine not out) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (four not out) successfully negotiating the first 3.2 overs in reply before rain set in about 7pm (AEDT).

Rain stopped falling roughly an hour before the match was called off at 9pm, the outfield considered too wet for play.

It will go down as a missed opportunity for the tourists, who will now head to Hobart for Wednesday's fifth and final game seeking back-to-back ODI series wins, after their triumph over New Zealand at home in November last year.

Australia's innings was built heavily around top-scoring opener David Warner (60) and some lusty lower order hitting from No.9 Mitchell Starc (52 not out off 37).

After lamenting Australia's dismal collapse at the Gabba on Friday, when bowled out for just 74, coach Mickey Arthur would've been less than impressed as top order frailties were again exposed by crafty Sri Lankan medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekara and speedster Lasith Malinga.

But the Australians weren't helped by two blunders from the on-field officials who prematurely ended the innings of top-scorer Warner and Moises Henriques (3).

On both occasions the batsmen were given out lbw, despite replays showing clear inside edges prior to hitting the pads, and Australia slumped to 6-130 with the consecutive dismissals.

Neither was able to use the decision review system because captain Michael Clarke (20) had burned Australia's only challenge with a frivolous query of an lbw of his own - which was upheld.

Warner, whose 60 is his highest ODI score in nearly 10 months, was particularly seething at the officiating error, thumping his bat in frustration as he glared at umpire Marais Erasmus on his walk back to the pavilion.

It was a painful end to an, at times, painful innings for the explosive opener, who was felled by a quick delivery to the groin before later getting hit on his left thumb - both incidents leaving the 26-year-old grimacing like Arthur would've been as the wickets fell.

But the 40-run last wicket partnership between Starc and Xavier Doherty (10no) pushed Australia past 200, further exposing the disappointing performance of Warner's top order allies who were once again bamboozled by swing bowler Kulasekara (3-30).

Malinga (2-33) also chimed in with a vicious burst of fast swing bowling that enticed an edge from David Hussey (1) and had George Bailey (22) seemingly under a spell.

Rangana Herath (2-37) and Thisara Perera (2-64) were the other wicket-takers.

The biggest cheer of the night came deep into the rain delay when fans in the Victor Trumper stand built the biggest beer snake in history - officially breaking the record registered at the WACA in 2007.

Both captains were told the light rain was more troublesome than heavy rain, that would've soaked into the SCG turf and been drained away.

Instead the drizzle sat on the surface and, with no sunlight or wind to impact it, caused a premature end to the fixture.

Jayawardene feared it could cost them a series victory and said he would write to the match umpire for clarification on the rules - pointing out heavy rain during their series against New Zealand didn't end the game.

"I think we can probably write to the match ref because obviously the interpretation we got three months ago in the New Zealand series was something totally different," he said.

"It was deemed that they'd only stop play if it was dangerous, not unfair.

"But today the interpretation was different. I accept that."

Clarke praised Warner and Starc but admitted he was disappointed that Australia now no longer had a chance to win the series - only draw it in Hobart.

"I'd rather see us lose the game than not get a result at all," Clarke said.

He lamented the two decisions that went against Australia's batsmen, but said it wouldn't change his approach to using DRS.