Ireland fail despite O'Brien fifty
Sri Lanka A 178 for 5 (Jayasinghe 41*, Cusack 2-43) beat Ireland 174 for 6 (O'Brien 59, Vidanapathirana 2-25) by five wickets
Ireland powered to 174 for 6 on the back of a 104-run opening stand by Paul Stirling and Niall O'Brien in their game against Sri Lanka A at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, but could not defend their total. Led by a Chinthaka Jayasinghe's unbeaten 41, the Sri Lankans cantered home in the 19th over.
O'Brien cleared the boundary twice as he raced to his second half-century in two games, while Stirling continued to impress, making a rapid 43 before he fell to Seekkuge Prasanna in the 12th over. O'Brien was dismissed in the next over, but short cameos from Kevin O'Brien and Alex Cusack kept the momentum going.
Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals, however, and Ireland could not quite push on to an unbeatable score. Cusack and John Mooney both fell to Chaminda Vidanapathirana, whose fast-medium seamers proved difficult to get away, but a solid innings from Gary Wilson lifted Ireland's total in the closing overs.
With a hefty target to chase down, Sri Lanka had to start positively and their opening pair of Tharanga Paranavitana and Milinda Siriwardana did just that. Paranavitana thrashed 21 off just nine balls, and despite his dismissal off the last ball of the second over, the strong Sri Lankan batting line-up sustained the assault, with 50 runs coming in the first three overs.
Undeterred by captain Chamara Kapugedera's dismissal, bowled by Mooney in the sixth over, Gihan Rupasinghe and Siriwardana continued to flay the Irish bowling attack. By the time both had been dismissed, the target had been reduced to just 65 runs in a little over ten overs. Jayasinghe and Jeewan Mendis picked up where they left off, easing Sri Lanka home with 10 balls to spare with an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 68.
Ireland now move on to the United Arab Emirates, where they have another warm-up fixture against Canada on Sunday, before facing Afghanistan in their opening Twenty20 Qualifier game on Tuesday. Worryingly for Ireland, it has been confirmed that Boyd Rankin, who picked up a foot injury before this tour, will miss the tournament.
Cricket Ireland have yet to nominate a replacement, but Nigel Jones will have done his chances of inclusion no harm whatsoever, taking 1 for 22 in his four-over spell - one of the few to escape punishment against the free-flowing Sri Lankans.