Sri Lanka arrived in Malahide Cricket Club after their drawn test match against England at Lords, and came away with a 76 run victory. Barry McCarthy, a right-arm medium paced bowler, was making his Ireland debut. Making their debut for Sri Lanka were Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka and Dananjaya de Silva. Ireland won the toss, and Captain William Porterfield chose to bowl first. Ireland also started without two of their spinners, George Dockrell and Andrew McBrine.
Ireland started slowly, with Sri Lanka’s opening batsman Kusal Perera knocking the ball all over the Malahide ground. Four 4’s in a superb quick-fire 32 had the Irish on the back-foot. However a change of bowler after the seventh over made a difference. Debutant Barry McCarthy, with just his 2nd ball in International cricket, delivered a good-length ball to Dhanuska Gunathilaka who nicked an outside edge straight to second-slip Paul Stirling.
McCarthy didn’t take long to claim his second wicket, as in his next over he took the wicket of the dangerous looking Perera. Perera tried to defend another good-length ball but he hit it straight back to McCarthy who caught it with ease.
Kusal Mendis then came in to make his debut for the tourists, hitting an excellent half-century. He went shortly after that, for 51 runs, when he was caught and bowled by Kevin O’Brien. Dinesh Chandimal kept the scoreboard ticking along nicely for Sri Lanka until new batsman, captain Angelo Mathews got his eye in. Two huge sixes from the captain along with four fours helped Mathews reach 48 before he was clean bowled by Ireland’s man-mountain Boyd Rankin.
Mathews was replaced by another debutant, Dasun Shanaka. The 24 year-old all-rounder came in and looked like a man possessed. He just smashed everything that came his way, belting 42 runs off only 19 balls to put the visitors in control. All that was left was for Chandimal to reach his century, which he did in style. Chandimal finished up on 102 not out, as Sri Lanka posted a target of 303 for 7.
Ireland’s response was slow. Captain William Porterfield and Paul Stirling did open with a partnership of 53, which Stirling managed 27, before he was clean-bowled by Shanaka. However it did take almost 12 overs. The required run-rate was 6.56 but Ireland’s was only 4.00 at that stage. Ed Joyce followed Stirling back to the clubhouse not too long after him, as he was caught by Sri Lanka’s first innings star Dinesh Chandimal off the bowling of Shanaka, again, for just nine runs.
Shanaka got his, and Sri Lanka’s 3rd wicket when he made John Anderson chase a ball wide off the off-stump, and he edged it straight to the wicket-keeper Chandimal. It left Ireland on just 91 for 3, and really struggling for someone to assist Porterfield.
Porterfield did manage to bring up his fifty, off 59 balls, in the 22nd over when he hit Shanaka down extra-cover for two.
Kevin O’Brien came in after Anderson. He was exceptionally lucky in the 25th over when he hit a high ball towards the ropes, which Perera did well to reach but bobbled the ball when he realised where he was and dropped the catch. To make matters worse for Perera, it ended up being a six for O’Brien!
O’Brien had another catch dropped in the 28th over when Mathews dropped him when on 25, with the wind a factor.
In the 31st over Captain William Porterfield was caught out by Shaminda Eranga, he tried to hit over the top of extra-cover but instead hit it straight to Perera. Porterfield had a super innings, hitting 73 off 88 balls. It was a big blow to Ireland’s chances.
Unfortunately in the 33rd over the rain arrived and we had a delay of about an hour. When play resumed Ireland had a new target of 293 in 47 overs. Stuart Poynter started well enough, but he too fell to Shanaka after hitting an excellent 20 off 21 balls.
Niall O’Brien was having a good day with the bat, but he too would succumb lbw to Nuwan Pradeep. The big hitting O’Brien managed to hit 64 off 49 balls, including three super sixes. Ireland’s bottom order didn’t show much resistance after that as Sri Lanka won by 76 runs.
Dusan Shanaka won’t forget his One-day International debut for Sri Lanka in a hurry, hitting 42 with the bat, taking 5 wickets with bowling figures of 9 overs, no maidens, 5 wickets for just 43 runs. quite a phenomenal day for the 24 year-old. Centurion Dinesh Chandimal was superb, and he was ably assisted by Kusal Mendis and captain Angelo Mathews.
For Ireland, it was a good day for young Barry McCarthy with his two wickets. Captain William Porterfield and all-rounder Niall O’Brien did well with the bat, but it was a disappointing outing for Ed Joyce.
The sides will do it all again on Saturday in the second match, with weather conditions looking more favorable.