Stand-in captain Michael Clarke said on Wednesday Australia's inability to kill off opposing teams was becoming a serious issue.

Clarke was left nonplussed after Sri Lanka, on the back of a record ninth-wicket stand between Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga, staged one of the great comebacks, setting up a one-wicket win with 34 balls left in their opening one-day international in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Clarke, who was deputising for Ricky Ponting who was away at a family funeral in Tasmania, was concerned about the team's growing habit of letting the opposition off the hook.

It was also Australia's sixth straight loss in all forms of the game, going back to July.

Australia has two more one-dayers against Sri Lanka before the first Ashes Test against England in Brisbane on November 25.

“What I'm so disappointed in is we got so close again and we couldn't finish the game off, which is an issue we've had for a while now in all three forms of the game,” Clarke told reporters.

“We've got to look at that and ask ourselves questions, find out what we can do to improve that.

“Execution cost us today with both bat and ball — having them eight for 107 we got hit around the park.

“Mathews is a very good player but Malinga is a No.10, a good No.10, but he's still a No.10 batsman.

“If we're good enough to execute our plans and get the top order out, I don't see any reason why we can't do it to the tailenders. “But it's not the first time it's happened and it's something we need to look at.”

Clarke stressed Australia could not look ahead to the Ashes, saying it was vital it improved its one-day form with the World Cup approaching early next year on the sub-continent.

“We've got a one-day World Cup coming up after the Ashes and we need to be playing our best cricket now,” he said. — AFP

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