Sri Lanka maintained a two-one series lead after rain rendered the fourth ODI against Australia a no-result in Sydney on Sunday.

The hosts put in a considerably better performance than the sever inadequacy coughed up in Brisbane earlier this week, but Mother Nature and her sodden mood had the final say - and left captain Michael Clarke and company with a must-win situation come Wednesday's fifth and final match.

Solid half-centuries from batsman David Warner and all-rounder Mitchell Starc were at the fore of the Australians' total of 222 for nine, while visiting openers Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan promised more en route to 14 without loss in reply.

Persistent showers soon left the outfield waterlogged, with umpires Marais Erasmus and Paul Reiffel drawing the curtains on proceedings entirely at 21:00 local time (10:30 GMT).

Australia's limited-overs middle order again lacked the services of recent Test Michael Hussey, with coach Mickey Arthur's recent defence of the decision to rest the veteran again questioned.

Batsmen two through eight managed a mere 88 runs between them, though Warner's 60 and Moises Henriques' three would have reached greater proportions were they not robbed by a couple of incorrect umpiring decisions. Both players were adjudged lbw, only for television replays to reveal hefty inside edges.

The left-handed Starc, though, defied a the officials and opposition en route to a career-best 52 not out off a mere 37 balls. The blossoming all-rounder's vigil featured seven boundaries, and offered the preceding specialist batsmen food for thought on a reasonably placid pitch.

Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, meanwhile, picked up where he left off at the Gabba, adding to that match-winning five-for with a further three wickets in front of the Sydney faithful. Fellow right-armers Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera were at hand for a brace each, while spinner Rangana Herath's flight, guile and turn earned him a couple of key breakthroughs too.

Jayawardene and Dilshan's response was prompt, but soon halted by the frustrating rain. Hobart, however, is likely to bring dry conditions - and a fitting decider to a competitive series.