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Australia's already-shaky buildup to the Ashes has suffered a massive blow thanks to a remarkable one-day cricket loss to Sri Lanka.

Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga posted the record partnership for the ninth wicket in a one-day international to steer their side to a one-wicket win over Australia on Wednesday night at the MCG.

The tourists looked gone at 8-107 in reply to Australia's 8-239 from 50 overs, but they reached 9-243 with 34 balls left.

Mathews top-scored with 77no and Malinga smashed his highest one-day score of 56, easily beating his previous best of 16.

Malinga was run out with the scores tied, but Muttiah Muralidaran leg-glanced Shane Watson for a boundary to secure the win.

The previous ninth-wicket record for an ODI was the 126 by Kapil Dev and Syed Kirmani for India against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup.

There were several momentum swings during this amazing match, but the biggest came last.

Mathews, the No.6 batsman, and Malinga took only 110 balls to amass their 132-run stand.

Mathews' unbeaten 77 came from 84 balls and featured eight fours and a six, while Malinga hit six fours and two sixes in his 48-ball innings.

It was Australia's sixth-straight loss in the three forms of the game since July.

The match felt like Australia were playing away, because at least three quarters of the small crowd of 19,309 were from Melbourne's Sri Lankan community.

Sri Lanka lost their openers cheaply, but a 54-run stand between captain Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene left them well-placed at 2-73 in the 16th over.

Then first-gamer Xavier Doherty trapped Jayawardene lbw for 19 with only his second delivery in one-day internationals.

Doherty took three more wickets for debut figures of 4-46 including the crucial scalp of captain Kumar Sangakkara for 49.

The home side were without captain Ricky Ponting, who went to Launceston in the morning for his grandmother's funeral.

After stand-in skipper Michael Clarke won the toss, Mike Hussey top-scored for Australia with a timely 71no as he tries to regain form ahead of the Ashes.

Brad Haddin made 49, while seam bowler Thisara Perera became the first Sri Lankan to take five wickets at the MCG in a one-day international, finishing with 5-46 from eight overs.

Hussey only hit one four in his 91-ball innings and that brought up his half century.

Like Doherty, Perera took three wickets in two overs to leave Australia in massive strife at 4-88.

Hussey and Shaun Marsh then put on 67 to steady the innings, before Marsh was caught behind for 31.

Australia did not score any boundaries from the 16th to the 40th overs and there were just 14 for the innings.

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