Runs for Ponting and Clarke in big win


Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke continued their solid run of form on the sub-continent with an unbeaten half-century each as Australia romped to an eight-wicket in the second ODI.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke continued their solid run of form on the sub-continent with an unbeaten half-century each as Australia romped to an eight-wicket in the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Hambantota.

Together for a half-century apiece through the bulk of their side's strut to victory in the series opener, the current and former captain again delivered on Sunday.

Ponting took his cue for a fine 90 not out and would've been set for three figures had Clarke not tucked into some freebie fours toward the tail end of the home side's hopes of a late charge, while the right-handed skipper ended unbeaten on 58.

Their stand amounted to 107 at a rate of 5.78 to the over for the third wicket and rendered the hosts the latter in the battle of men versus boys.

Reliant on Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath, drafted into the XI at the expense of Suranga Lakmal and Suraj Randiv, for wickets, the Sri Lankans instead hung their heads in dismay as the fast bowler and left-arm spinner copped plenty of expense at the hands of Ponting and sidekick.

With Brad Haddin, again out cheaply, sent packing early and Shane Watson's 43 ended by a characteristically lethal Malinga yorker, the right-handers set about milking the singles and twos on offer before hammering home an attacking message for the duration of the series.

Racking up triumph with all of 70 deliveries to spare, Ponting and Clarke near toyed with the bowlers through the second 50-odd runs of the stand in relatively trying conditions. The latter proved the aggressor for the most part for his four boundaries and two sixes down the ground, but his predecessor wasn't to be entirely undone with his eight fours and solitary six.

Earlier Sri Lanka produced another shoddy performance with the bat to slump to 208 all out in 49.3 overs.

Felled for 191 in the series opener, the hosts would have hoped to learn a quick lesson after again opting to bat first, but instead coughed up a string of ill-discipline in the face of a sound showing from the visiting fast bowlers.

Kumar Sangakkara, in particular, should kick himself for not converting the 65th half-century of his ODI career into something larger. The former captain had done well to see his side recover from 77 for four across a 63-run rearguard stand alongside Angelo Mathews, but then holed out to a full toss from part-time spinner David Hussey.

Mathews too lacked the discipline expected of a senior member of the squad. The all-rounder met his 35 runs with calm and collection but then endured a rush of blood to the head in falling to deep cover when he really should have stuck around to guide the lower-order.

Nuwan Kulasekara, who picked up on some good form at Pallekele, assumed the role Mathews should have in lacing measure with aggression through his knock of 34. The would-be all-rounder garnered three fours and a six across his 31-ball cameo – a stark contrast to the team's mere three fours and a six between overs 11 and 41.

Doug Bollinger – for his superb line and length – was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 35, while Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson's bid to bang the batsmen out on a deck void of much help for the fast bowlers yielded two scalps apiece.

The victory leaves the Aussies two-nil up in the five-match affair and assured of their number-one ranking in the ICC ODI championship regardless of the outcome of the next three matches. Sri Lanka, who were in the running for top spot provided they triumphed four-one or better, are now faced with a must-win situation to avoid series defeat come Tuesday's third one-dayer.