Sri Lanka Win Series 2-0 Over Ireland

Kusal Janith Perera
It was a day of records at the Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin as Sri Lanka cruised to a massive 136 run victory in the second One-Day International. It was a day of huge disappointment for Irish sport, following Ireland’s 3-0 defeat to Belgium in Euro 2016, and the Irish Rugby teams second-half capitulation in Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Only one change for Ireland today as all-rounder Andrew McBrine came in for Max Sorensen. For Sri Lanka, Nuwan Pradeep and Dananjaya de Silva were rested and replaced by Farvees Maharoof and Suranga Lakmal.

Sri Lanka began the game with the same opening pairing from the first game, with Kusal Perera and Dhanuska Gunathilaka. It followed a similar pattern to the first game as Perera was the dominant batter, with Gunathilaka just hanging around and keeping his partner on strike.

In the eleventh over Gunathilaka brought up Sri Lanka’s fifty with a big 6 over long-on, off the bowling of Tim Murtagh. Ireland’s bowlers were having difficulty making any real inroads into this opening partnership in glorious sunshine in Malahide Cricket Club.

Big lbw appeal on Perera by O’Brien in the 15th over, but to no avail. He has batted quite consistently for Sri Lanka over these two games, as well as in the drawn test match against England at Lords.

The partnership was finally broken when Gunathilaka was run out for 63 off 78 balls in the 27th over after Paul Stirling’s good work in the field. It was a fine opening partnership, 147 0ff 158, and set the Sri Lankans up nicely for victory.

Seekuge Prasanna came in at number 3, and hit a huge six off the very first ball he faced. Not a bad start to his innings. He would go on to hit his highest ODI score in 27 matches. Unbelievable hitting from Prasanna.

Kusal Perera hit his century off Boyd Rankin in the 35th over, a single. He hit ten 4’s and two 6’s in that century.

Prasanna was making a mockery of Ireland’s bowling attack, hitting them all over the ground. He combined with Perera for a 100 partnership off less than 10 overs, a phenomenal achievement. Perera himself followed Prasanna by batting for a new ODI high-score when he passed his previous high of 116 in the 40th over.

Tim Murtagh finally took a wicket in the 42nd over when he clean bowled the hugely impressive Prasanna, as he was denied a wonderful century, leaving the field after hitting 95 off 46 balls. He just fell short a becoming the fastest Sri Lankan cricketer to reach a century in ODI’s. Perera followed shortly after, when Stirling took a catch off the bowling of Murtagh. His brilliant knock of 135 put the visitors in full command of the game.

Another wicket fell when the hero of the first match, Dusan Shanaka hit straight to Murtagh who took the catch. Sri Lanka were at that stage 312 for 4. Three wickets in five balls for Ireland.

Captain Angelo Mathews came in and he continued the form of their previous batsmen, hitting a quick-fire 24 before big Boyd Rankin bowled him out, helped by a catch from wicket-keeper Wilson. Maharoof went for 29, as he was caught by McBrine off the bowling of McCarthy. Next ball up, and McCarthy got his second wicket as Wilson caught Chandimal’s effort. No repeat heroics from Chandimal today. Second successive 2-wicket haul for young McCarthy. McCarthy also helped Murtagh pick up his 3rd wicket of the day when he caught Kusal Mendis for 8.

In the end Sri Lanka failed in their quest to reach 400, reaching 377 for the loss of 7 wickets, but will be thrilled with the batting performance. For Ireland, their bowling will need to improve dramatically for them to make an impact at this level.

In Ireland’s response, albeit facing a mammoth task, Porterfield and Stirling didn’t get off to a great start. Captain Porterfield was caught by his opposite captain Angelo Mathews for just 8 runs off Lakmal’s bowling in just the sixth over, putting even more pressure on them.

Ed Joyce followed Porterfield, and if ever he needed some time at the crease, this was it.

Stirling was the next batter to go when he was caught by Chandimal, off Lakmal who was taking his second wicket. Unfortunately Joyce soon followed, when he knicked Maharoof’s delivery to Gunathilaka. It’s another hugely disappointing effort from Joyce, scoring just nine runs.

Kevin O’Brien hit 12 runs but then got out by hitting straight to Maharoof off Shanaka. Sri Lanka’s fielding was of the highest order too, as they chased down everything, saving runs aplenty.

It was a very disappointing performance from the Irish team, only John Anderson showing any sort of resistance, but he ended up back in the pavilion a little sooner than Irish supporters would have hoped, after a bowling change from Sri Lanka. Seekuge Prasanna’s first ball was sent to Mendis who made a good catch. Prasanna also took the wicket of Gary Wilson, as Ireland’s middle order were dispatched with effective ease.

It all got pretty static after that, with Ireland only just attempting to see out the fifty overs rather than give the crowd something to get excited about. Lakmal picked up his 3rd wicket with the wicket of Stuart Poynter for 36. Poynter tried an uppercut but it went to Gunathilaka.

McCarthy went for just four after chasing a Gunathilaka effort down the wicket but missed and the ball hit the stumps. Andrew McBrine was Ireland’s top scorer with the bat as put some respectability onto the Irish scoreboard by hitting a wonderful maiden half-century before succumbing to Mathews while on 79. Boyd Rankin was the only one left on 18.

Stuart Poynter, John Anderson, Andrew McBrine, Boyd Rankin and Barry McCarthy all scored their highest ODI scores.

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