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Aussies switch focus to Ashes

AUSTRALIA'S shock elimination from the World Twenty20 will not affect its confidence for the Ashes series, captain Ricky Ponting said on Monday.

Sri Lanka became the second team to beat Australia in three days with a six-wicket triumph at Trent Bridge and Ponting's side has now lost 13 of its 23 Twenty20 clashes.

Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a superb 53 from 32 balls and captain Kumar Sangakkara an unbeaten 55, while Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga both took three wickets as Sri Lanka booked its place in the Super 8 phase of the tournament.

It must now start preparing for a five-test series against England starting July 8.

"It's my job to make sure we get over this pretty quickly and start focusing on the red balls and white clothing over the next couple of months," Ponting told reporters.

"I certainly won't be focusing on the negative stuff that has happened over the last couple of days. It's about looking at the positives we have created with our test team over the last few months. I like to think that none of this will linger around.

"Being in England there is no better place to be as the excitement and atmosphere at the start of an Ashes is going to be tremendous and if we can get caught up in that there won't be any negatives hanging around from the last few days."

Australia's next match is on June 24 against Sussex, so it has 15 days, based mainly in Leicester, to prepare and Ponting said the practice time may yet be an advantage.

"I guess it can't hinder us to have more time with the red balls out and preparing for the longer form of the game, while England plays Twenty20 for at least another week so maybe that is one thing we can take from our time at Leicester," Ponting said.

"I've never been a big believer in taking one series to another, particularly when it's different forms of the game. We have a vast changeover of players coming over for the Ashes and when they get here we will build on from the very good stuff we did in South Africa."

Despite his attempts to put a positive spin on Australia's elimination from cricket's premier 20-over event, Ponting did not try to hide from his team's vulnerabilities in that format of the game.

"I would love to be able to tell you what's going wrong as that's five international Twenty20 games we have lost in a row and that's a worrying trend for our team," he added. "We've got some thinking to do there's no doubt about that.

"We will have a chat about where our Twenty20 cricket is at tonight and then we have got to move on from it pretty quickly because we've got some test matches just around the corner and our test team has been our shining light recently."

Chasing a modest target of 160, Sri Lanka needed just one run from the final over - which it got when Mitchell Johnson bowled a wide.

Brett Lee made a breakthrough in the third over when David Warner made a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Sanath Jayasuriya for just 2. But Dilshan then assaulted Australia's bowlers, bringing up his half century off just 26 balls with an outrageous flick over wicket-keeper Brad Haddin's head for four.

His innings ended when he was bowled by Michael Clarke's first ball in the ninth over and Nathan Hauritz then had Mahela Jayawardene caught by Nathan Bracken.

Sangakkara then anchored Sri Lanka's innings and just as Australia appeared to be creeping back into the game Jehan Mubarak hit a crucial six off Lee that just eluded the fielder on the boundary.

In the penultimate over, Mubarak again struck Lee for a boundary that was inches from being caught.

Earlier Sri Lanka's athletic fielding and miserly bowling stifled Australia's batsmen, whose innings got off to a wretched start when David Warner was caught by Dilshan off Angelo Matthews for 0 with just one run on the board.


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