Ireland v Sri Lanka, ODI series, Clontarf May 6, 2014

Sri Lanka leave Ireland bereft

The Report by Ger Siggins

Sri Lanka 219-8 (Kulasekara 43, Chandimal 39) beat Ireland 140 (Porterfield 37, N O'Brien 33, Mendis 3-27, Lakmal 3-29) by 79 runs

Ireland cricket fans have enjoyed the team's golden age of success, but they still take nothing for granted when they come to Clontarf. For 50 years they have been coming to watch Ireland at the Dublin club ground, and have yet to see them beat a full member. This was the 17th game since India first visited in 1967, and last year's tie against Pakistan and a 1980 draw against West Indies are still their best results.

Several times in recent years - especially early in the tepid Irish summer - William Porterfield's team has been in dominant positions only to find victory slip away from them, and this game followed that almost inevitable path.

Chasing 220 to beat Sri Lanka, the Irish batsmen found that the visitors' high-class bowlers enjoyed the seaming conditions just as much as their own attack had, and despite a couple of battling innings they went down by 79 runs, extending the Sri Lankans' winning run to ten ODIs.

Ireland's total of 140 was their lowest in an ODI on the ground.

The Irish seamers are well versed in using the local conditions, and kept Ireland on top until some late hitting from Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis hoisted the total over the 200 mark, which looked distant with ten overs to go and the score on 139 for 6.

The sky overhead provided its own narrative, with bright blue skies at the start giving over to a typically Dublin slate grey background, before the innings closed with angry clouds hovering as if a scene from Game of Thrones was about to be staged. Rain visited briefly, but not enough to drive the players from the battlefield.

William Porterfield called correctly and had no hesitation in asking Angelo Mathews to bat, and within four balls had reason for satisfaction. With the ball wobbling around, a good shout for leg before from Tim Murtagh was followed by an acrobatic diving catch by Kevin O'Brien at second slip as the ball left Kusal Perera.

Murtagh was almost unplayable as the Sri Lankans battled with the conditions to stay in the game. It took until the seventh over for the first boundary to be hit, and Lahiru Thirimanne was uncomfortable before Alex Cusack found his edge.

Before the game, Porterfield had called for his bowlers to keep the pressure on, pointing to the need to take wickets throughout the innings and not just at the start. His bowlers responded to the call, all bar Max Sorensen contributing to the wickets column.

O'Brien came up with another bit of gymnastic genius, this time off his own bowling, to dismiss Dinesh Chandimal just as he was looking dangerous. The Sri Lankan pushed an innocuous looking delivery wide of O'Brien, who dived wide to his left and clung on with one-hand. Next over Paul Stirling found Kithruwan Vithanage's edge with his second ball of the day, which went straight to Ed Joyce at slip and left the visitors on 95 for 5.

Ashan Priyanjan joined his captain to repair the innings but they were unable to find any fluency through the powerplay overs, which yielded just 20. Mathews was lucky to just clear Joyce at third man, but in the next over he pushed his luck once too often. Priyanjan tucked the ball around the corner and Mathews came half way down before being sent back. From fine leg, almost 40 metres away, Niall O'Brien threw the stumps down at the bowler's end and the Irish fielders erupted.

Kulasekara came in and smashed the only sixes of the day, sharing a sparkling stand with Mendis, but with Porterfield managing his bowling changes with skill, Murtagh returned to claim another scalp and finish with 2 for 21 off his ten overs.

The Irish innings started in rain, but there were soon more than drops of water falling. Paul Stirling edged Kulasekera onto his stumps, before Ed Joyce's deep purple patch ended when he wafted Suranga Lakmal to the keeper. At 5 for 2 Ireland's reply was in trouble, but Niall O'Brien counter-attacked and passed 1,500 runs in ODIs with his second scoring shot.

He and Porterfield played contrasting roles as they battled with the bowling. They had put on 58 - the only fifty stand of the day - when O'Brien nicked off. Clouds had gathered anew and D/L sheets were a'flapping when a flurry of wickets made them redundant.

First Porterfield called Gary Wilson for a tight run which was rejected. Porterfield continued his run towards the pavilion before the umpires called him back as he had overtaken Wilson. Two overs later Kevin O'Brien horribly mistimed a pull of Lakmal off the first ball he faced, watching in disgust as it fell in slow-motion into the hands of Senanayake at mid-wicket. The next over saw Stuart Thompson all at sea to Mendis, only using his feet to keep the ball from hitting the stumps, said the umpire.

That was 74 for 6 and all thoughts of that first win in Clontarf was gone. Porterfield battled on to make 37 off 87 balls and the tail clumped a few before Kulasekara was summoned to finish it off.

Any concerns that Mendis's fingers might seize up in the single digit temperatures were proved wrong with a man-of-the-match winning 10-1-26-3. The teams return to the same venue on Thursday with Ireland itching to level the series.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samantha on May 11, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    @Akila93, Are you saying, SL should eliminate an established young player with so much experience, solid international track-record to prove his consistency & skills should be eliminated to include a flat-deck player like Kusal, who had been given ample opportunities and failed miserably outside Bangladesh (Av 14.2 from 21 ODIs)! Are you saying the SL player who has the Highest Batting Average (69.4) with more than 300 Runs in England vs Eng should be dropped, to make room for a Gate-Opener like Kusal ? Tell me a single valid reason, why a player like Upul had been eliminated from the Central Contract & Squads during the past year, despite having such an incomparable batting record in the recent past & whole international career? Facts & Stats can't hide! I hope the Selectors will do a proper job for SL this time, rather than batting for privileged!

  • Pinidiya on May 11, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    @Akila93, I'll tell you why, scoring a triple century on a small club ground want make a player worthy at international level. There are so many other records like that from bowlers/batsmen in domestic history. But, every player who had that kind of instant domestic records didn't get selected for national side, because records based on CONSISTENCY, such as batting averages, accumulated runs, number of 100s, 50s are the significant things reflecting ABILITY! Sanga showed his potential & skills right from the beginning in domestic cricket with high averages as well as international level with decent scores in all conditions, without screwing the side like Kusal! Since July 2012 to the day he was axed July '13, Tharanga had played 20 ODIs-2 N/O, and accumulated 567 R at an Av of 31.5 on home soil & lively decks! Is this inconsistency for a player who had managed so many achievements right from the day he began his Career? People like you are just thinking about favorites, not about SL!!!

  • Akila on May 11, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    those who are slashing Kusal, those who think he doesn't have a proper technique, those who think he is mediocre,then tell me why he is the only player to score a triple century in SL club history, c'm on people he only played 28 odi, you cant expect every young batsman to score like kohli, think about Sanga's odi career, people called him gandasthara, slashed at him, sanga's 1st 45 mtches- 3- 50's , average 21.10, and took him 70 or 80 matches to get his 1st 100, if people like you were there on selection panel, there will be no" great Sanga", on the other hand tharanga is tried and failed option, how many times he was given chances he scores once in a while and fail 50 times, it better give chance to much younger player

  • Samantha on May 10, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Ireland match was a good eye-opener for the responsible people in SL. We are about to lose 3 front-order experienced batsmen in the near future. They were the players who shouldered and absorbed the early breakdown pressure in numerous occasions! (since, Kusal opened the gate within the first 5 overs, 10 times in 17 innings that he opened, since June 2013). Dil, Sanga or Jaya somehow managed to stable the dented ship and Mathews with the help of lower order guys like Kulasekara, Thisara, Sachithra turned many ODIs to a winning streak from a losing path! Is there any logic or sense, trying to develop a mediocre player like Kusal at the expense of (DUMPING) an established young opener like Upul (29yrs) with 5000+ Runs & a Batting Average 34.03 better than Jayawardane-32.77 or even Jayasuriya-32.51.??? Specially at a time like this.???

  • Kepili on May 9, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    @ncpasan, Jayasuriya came as a bowler and played lower down in the batting order, during the first few years of his career. His batting average at that stage appropriate to the position he played as a bowler! But, remember from the day he became an opener, he showed his class playing everywhere! Being an outstation boy, otherwise he wouldn't have survived a day during that time!

  • Pinidiya on May 9, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    @ncpasan, Kusal didn't open in that match, he came at number 4 and escaped twice due to dropped catches to score 22 runs , when chasing a small target like 75. Is this anything significant to brag about? Even Malinga had scored more than 50 runs, coming at number 11 to win a match against Aus in Australia. To be an OPENER, he should show some potential, in his technique. Unfortunately, anyone who had played cricket would see his bareness in batting technicality. Whether you like it or not, that is the naked truth pal!

  • Kanishka on May 9, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    @King_Loyal I hope u were joking when u said kulasekera should open. With all due respect to kula he is not a genuine batsman besides his main duty is to bowl SL don't need a Irfan Pathan. I agree kusal is not ideal in swinging conditions but he is still young and he will learn remember jayasuriya didn't have any textbook technique yet scored a double century in England.

  • Pasan on May 9, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    can't understand why all people are bashing KUSAL. People have forgotten that he's the only player who played with ease to Johnson and co in Australia in their 3rd ODI in Australia. That too was his debut series at international level.

    FYI Jayasuriya's average in his first few years was BELOW 20. So stop comparing his overall stats with KUSAL. Give the lad some time to settle down. He'll be a great asset in the future especially against fast bowlers.

  • Pinidiya on May 9, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    Irish bowlers were really good, especially Tim Murtagh utilized the seaming conditions and opener Kusal Perera's inability to survive in such conditions, to the max! Irish fielding was superb throughout the match and they made SL baiting survival limited to the batting skills in the first hour of play! Too bad the 2nd match got washed away, they should have included a spare day. I'm sure Ireland will be the next test playing nation!

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    He mantra lack of consistency is not Kusals problem.His performance is consistently poor

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