Australia's one-day rotation policy given Sri Lanka new lease of life, says Ian Harvey

Last Updated: 18/01/13 1:29pm

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Nuwan Kulasekara: returned 5-22 from his 10 overs in Brisbane

Nuwan Kulasekara: returned 5-22 from his 10 overs in Brisbane

Australia paid the price for over-rotating their squad as they were shot out for just 74 en route to a humiliating four-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in the third one-day international at the Gabba, says Ian Harvey.

The hosts - at one point 40-9 after opting to bat - recorded their lowest ODI score for 27 years and third worst total ever as seamer Nuwan Kulasekara claimed 5-22.

Sri Lanka reached their target with a mammoth 30 overs to spare and after Sunday's win in Adelaide they now lead the series 2-1 - a remarkable turnaround after they lost the opening match of the five-game series in Melbourne by 107 runs.

"Credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers - they've been outstanding since game one. They've hit good areas and built up pressure. But Australia's got a lot of work to do between now and Sydney."
Ian Harvey

Australia's collapse was all the more surprising given the return of Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade but Harvey, who played 73 ODIs for Australia, told Sky Sports HD that recent changes in team selection have undermined the home side's hopes.

"Australia were poor," admitted Harvey. "Clarke said he could have won the toss and bowled first but I don't think that was ever in his thoughts as both captains said they were going to bat first.

"Australia didn't technically handle themselves very well against a moving ball; it's not easy, but some of the shot selections weren't good and they were put under a lot of pressure.

"Credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers - they've been outstanding since game one. They've hit good areas and built up pressure, but Australia have got a lot of work to do between now and Sydney.

"There are a lot of questions to answer because they'll feel that they had Sri Lanka down and out and then all of a sudden Australia pick a completely different team.

"After one game they change the team again for the second game and then all of a sudden there is a raft of changes for the third game, which is a very uncharacteristic Australian approach.

"Normally when they get a team down, they usually try to keep them down. Sri Lanka are now only one win away from a fantastic series victory in Australia. They look a completely different team from what we saw after that first one-day international."

Struggling

Former England seamer Angus Fraser echoed Harvey's sentiments, saying he thought he could detect signs in Clarke's post-match interview that the Australian skipper is not happy with Australia's selection policy.

"While Clarke is saying 'no excuses', I think he's struggling to explain the rationale behind the rotation policy and you also wonder if he truly believes it," said Fraser.

"He's stood there trying to explain an horrendous defeat - you sort of think 'should we really be going down this road and should we be trying to get our best team on the park even if they have got the odd niggle rather than be over-protective?'

"A team comes together, players get used to each other and their roles in the side; you get used to each other's company, too, and it helps to produce far more productive performances than we've seen."

Only a last-wicket stand of 34 between Mitchell Starc (22no) and Xavier Doherty (15) - the only two Australian players to make double figures - saved the home side from complete embarrassment, and Fraser was keen to give Sri Lanka's seamers the credit they deserved for a match-winning display.

"When you think of Sri Lankan cricket you think of very skilful batsmen who are easy on the eye and spin bowling," he added. "But it has been the seam bowling that has made the difference in their last two matches - they have bowled Australia out for 170 and 74.

"Lasith Malinga bowled better today but it has been the nibbling medium-pacers - Angelo Mathews, Kulasekara - that have taken the wickets. Yes, they've had something to work with but I suppose Sri Lanka's resurgence has come from a corner that you wouldn't have expected.

"It's their seam bowlers that have made the difference and put Australia under pressure."

Catch the fourth ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 3am on Sunday morning.

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