Perth: Sri Lanka rode on Angelo Mathews' heroics to very nearly pull off a sensational victory before falling short by just five runs against Australia in a nerve-wrecking cricket tri-series match here on Friday.
Chasing a modest target of 232, the islanders were in the dumps as they were 180 for nine in the 45th over before all-rounder Mathews (64) staged a remarkable fightback to give a scare at the Australians at the WACA.
Mathews unleashed a flurry of strokes at the dying stages to raise visions of a stunning come-from-behind victory with a 46-run partnership with Dhammika Prasad but eventually fell in the penultimate ball to give the hosts their second successive win in the tournament.
Mathews faced 76 balls and hit four boundaries and a six in his entertaining knock.
Australia had earlier beaten India by 65 runs in their first match on February 5 at the MCG.
Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty was the pick of the Australian bowlers as he scalped two wickets for 24 runs in his 10 overs. Pacer Daniel Christian also bagged two wickets for 47 runs.
Captain Clarke used as many a six bowlers, including himself and all of them claimed at least a wicket. Pacers Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc and Clinton McKay as well as Clarke picked a wicket each.
For Sri Lanka, who wasted a fine bowling effort by their bowlers to restrict Australia for 231, it was their second successive loss in the tournament having beaten by India by four wickets in their first match at the same venue here on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka did not have any substantial partnership except for the second wicket stand of 50 runs from 11 overs between Tillakaratne Dilshan (40) and Kumar Sangakkara (22).
Opener Upul Tharanga (5) was the first to go in the fourth over as he dabbed at an angled delivery off Starc without moving his feet and the resultant edge was calmly taken by Clarke at the slips.
The other opener Dilshan was going strong with some delightful and sweetly-timed shots though he also lived dangerously with some edges reaching to the boundaries.
One-down Sangakkara was cautious initially but later opened up his arms. He cracked two fours in the same over bowled by Christian to make his intentions clear.
But after sharing 50 runs from 11 overs to steady the Sri Lankan innings, the second wicket stand was broken with Sangakkara departing in a mix-up with his partner.
Dilshan refused to respond to the call by Sangakkara after the ball popped up close to the stumps. Sangakkara started running for a single and reached midway the pitch but Dilshan was unmoved and McKay had all the time in the world to snap the stumps. Sangakkara's 22 came from 32 balls and had three boundaries in it.
Dilshan did not last long as he was out in the 21st over off Harris as he inside-edged a delivery to wicket-keeper Matthew Wade for a tame dismissal. Dilshan made his 40 from 57 balls with the help of four boundaries.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene (13) fell cheaply as he tried to guide a Christian rising delivery to the third man only to tamely dab it to Wade in the 27th over.
Next over, Doherty removed Lahiru Thirimanne (3) with a gem of a delivery which spun in from outside off to hit leg stump. Dinesh Chandimal (37) batted resolutely for sometime but he too fell in the 31st over, LBW to Clarke who struck first ball.
Mathews held one end together from the 31st over but it seemed all over by the time Sri Lanka were 180 for nine in the 45th over. But he and Dhammika took the match down the wire.
Sri Lanka needed 18 runs from the final over and Mathews hit a four and a six from the first two balls off Starc as they needed eight from four balls.
The next two balls fetched only a single each and Sri Lanka needed six from two balls but it all ended with Mathews holing out to Christian at long on while trying for a big hit.