SYDNEY - David Warner's best-ever international innings couldn't help Australia turn around their reputation as Twenty20 battlers in a crushing five-wicket loss to Sri Lanka on Saturday night.
Sri Lanka lost 4-23 midway through their chase, but eventually cruised to victory with seven balls to spare in front of 40,242 fans on Australia Day at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Thisara Perera (19 off 12) brought up the win with consecutive sixes, after Kusal Janith Perera (33 from 22) and skipper Angelo Mathews (35no from 27) paved the way for victory.
Warner (90 from 62 balls) was let down badly by his fellow batsmen as Australia set a meek target of 138, despite losing just three wickets.
George Bailey was the only man other than Warner to find the fence — a solitary six in the ninth over.
Adam Voges (25 from 29) summed it up best: "I think Davey was playing on a different wicket to the rest of us."
Unfortunately for Australia, most of Sri Lanka's batsmen also found a way through the slow conditions.
Warner's excellent innings featured five boundaries and three heaving sixes.
But it counted for little, with usual big-hitters Aaron Finch (1), Shaun Marsh (6) and Bailey (11) failing to take golden opportunities to ride on the coat-tails of arguably the world's best T20 striker.
Bailey called Australia "underachievers" before the first of two T20Is against Sri Lanka.
Despite promises to turn things around, that tag remains for the team ranked a lowly seventh in the world — who play Sri Lanka again on Monday in Melbourne.
Tasmanian carpenter Ben Laughlin stung Tillakaratne Dilshan with a vicious bouncer in the fourth over and then took a spectacular leaping catch in the seventh to inspire hope in the Australians.
Left bloodied above his eye by the bouncer, Dilshan hit Xavier Doherty over Laughlin's head into the out-field — only for the recalled quick to sprint with his back to the ball and reel in one of the catches of the summer.
In-form Doherty took two wickets, as did Indian Test hopeful Glenn Maxwell — but it wasn't nearly enough protecting such a slender total.