Ireland v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Clontarf May 7, 2014

Risk-free Ireland need panache


Match facts

Thursday, May 8, 2014
Start time 1045 (0945 GMT)

Big Picture

Lovely as the Clontarf ground is, it was clear on Tuesday, Sri Lanka would rather have been playing somewhere else. The pre-game talk was a little short of pep. The batting was lackadaisical at times (several players probably wore more layers than the number of minutes they spent at the crease). The yapping that normally welcomes opposition batsmen to the crease was muted, and though the fielding was sharp, there was stiffness in the performance. Still, despite the cold and the absence of six top players, Sri Lanka were unblinkingly professional; winning the crucial moments to put the opposition away. There is little to fault in that.

Ireland will know Tuesday was their best opportunity to scalp a top-eight team at Clontarf for the first time. With a win in the bag, Sri Lanka are likely to be a stiffer opposition this time, but vulnerabilities remain. Sri Lanka's batting remains unsteady. Often one of the three seniors would lead a recovery if early wickets are lost, but in this team, that responsibility may largely fall to Angelo Mathews, who is a swiftly improving player, but one who is still coming to terms with his numerous roles in the side. Much also depends on the accuracy of Sri Lanka's reading of the kind of conditions almost every man in the dressing room is unfamiliar with.

But the hosts would do well to unearth panache in their own game, to throw Sri Lanka off kilter. On Tuesday, Ireland largely played steady, risk-free cricket, and still lost by 79 runs. The bowlers hit good lines, but did not snuff out enough Sri Lanka wickets to ensure there would be no resurgence. The batsmen played sensibly, but were undone by Sri Lanka's superior craft and skill. A bold new bowling plan or a fearless outlook with the bat may be their best chance to upset a team, that this year, has seemed allergic to losing limited overs matches.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WWWWW
Ireland: LLWWL

In the spotlight

Tim Murtagh was Ireland's star with the ball on Tuesday, consistently beating the left-handers' outside edge with his angle and a little bit of away-seam. With four left-handers in Sri Lanka's top six, Murtagh may consider bowling a fuller, more aggressive length. He may travel for runs that way, but Ireland need an out-and-out strike bowler if they are to topple Sri Lanka, and on Tuesday's evidence, Murtagh could be that man.

A week after Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said Sri Lanka would need fast-bowling allrounders for their World Cup campaign, Nuwan Kulasekara outlined his continued progress toward that role with a vital 42 not out in the first match. Already perhaps the most reliable bowler in the attack, Kulasekara is becoming one of the team's most indispensable assets.

Teams news

Offspinner Andy McBrine sits in reserve for Ireland, but it is unlikely he will play. The hosts have a settled batting order, which means Andrew Poynter may miss out again.

Ireland (probable): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Niall O'Brien, 5 Gary Wilson (wk), 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Alex Cusack, 8 Stuart Thompson, 9 Max Sorensen, 10 George Dockrell, 11 Tim Murtagh

Sri Lanka are unlikely to tinker either.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Upul Tharanga, 3. Lahiru Thirimanne, 4. Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5. Angelo Mathews (capt) 6. Kithuruwan Vithanage, 7. Ashan Priyanjan, 8. Nuwan Kulasekara, 9. Sachithra Senanayake, 10. Ajantha Mendis, 11. Suranga Lakmal

Pitch and conditions

There was some dampness in the pitch on Tuesday, and scoring appeared difficult off both seamers and spin bowlers. Word is, a different surface will be used for this match, but expect more of the same.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland have not defeated a full-member nation at Clontarf in 17 attempts

  • Sri Lanka have now won 16 out of 17 limited-overs internationals played this year

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kepili on May 8, 2014, 13:32 GMT

    Still play, it's likely that will be the end of it! Sad to see a deserving young player fading away with the rain, after demonstrating what should be the opener's role in the first hour of play on a lively deck, dealing with accurate pacemen, in the single opportunity he got after 9 months! It's hilarious to read some comments in this forum, saying Tharanga's lack of consistency caused his demise & trying to justify SLC. Since July 2012 to the day he was axed July 2013, 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 ODI career? He is the youngest & fastest to reach initial 1000 runs in SL. Why this young guy is not considered for ODI squad? Doesn't he deserve a place? Especially at a time looking for experience, UNLUCKY is not an answer! My question is Who would CUT a FRUIT BEARING TREE to let the WILD WEEDS to grow?

  • Sriyangi on May 8, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    King_Loyal has written a SARCASTIC comment. None of the other comments against King_Loyal seem to understand Sarcastic humor. So sorry for those guys. Well written King_Loyal!!

  • Michael on May 8, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    King_Loyal's comments are best ignored. How does coming from a poor background and ending up being an International cricketer turn into a negative?? SL did well to win against Ireland. Some promising early season performances from Chandimal, Mathews, Priyanjan, Kulasekera, Mendis, in particular. Sterner battles lie ahead and SL will give it their all.

  • Android on May 8, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    King_Loyal Tharanga was a great batsman who have top records against top cricketing nations.he deserve chances.Kusal Janith, did u watch the SL Vs. Sourh Africa match of world T20 2014.... I think u haven't.. Dale Steyn one of the deadliest bowler open up the match...... Kusal hit 17 runs for that over Dale can't believe his eyes whats happening... villiers said that in future Kusal will be a dangerous batsman to bowl... he ended his innings 61 off 41 balls.... and his fielding was superb..... so we can't lose any of them... they ar our future... understand it.....don't blame cricketers like other nations do... respect them..that they had given much happy to our matter they fail...they have chances.....tharanga will.have chances... Kusal is completely new so they must develop their skills give them time...... or don't watch Cricket.... stay away from it......

  • Kazi on May 8, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    Ireland can Make a upset

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    c'mon UPUL ,,, show your colors....

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    According to King_Loyal, pretty much half or more of the current SL squad must be dropped, including the likes of Malinga, Chandimal, Lakmal, Prasanna, Herath, Kulasekara, Eranga, Pradeep, de Silva, Perera etc. Did I miss anyone? Because that was close to the entire SL team. If selectors think like people like King_Loyal, SL would be a pretty mediocre team...

  • Dummy4 on May 8, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    @king loyal : u dont know anything about cricket, u know how many matches the great SANGA took to get his first century ? No. He took 70 odd matches, if according to u, he should be kiked out in those days, slc board saw some specialty in him, thats why they gave chances for him. Same thing happens to KUSAL too. but with THARANGA he is unlicky to not to get more chances, but cant blame the board, tharangas law consistancy cost him. We dont have clusters of talented cricketers like INDIA, so we should get the best out of wat we have, thats why SLC gives more chances to CHANDIMAL. I dont like people like KING_LOYAL even watching cricket, guys like u only know know o blame our cricketers saying they play for momey and all, i heard how guys blame our cricketers when they lost finals, they forget how our players came through to finals, they only appreciate the best in the world, not the second best. I WONT ALL U GUYS TO READ THIS COMMENT, SPECIALY IF U READ THE COMMENT BY KING_LOYAL.

  • Raman on May 8, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    King_Loyal seems to be a Loyal Royal. He wants Kusal to play despite his repeated failures and dismal record in 50-50 cricket. He try to discredit Tharanga who has a proven track-record. His reasons are the most illogocal, that Tharanga is not glamarous and he is from poor rural back ground. Since when such qualities were needed to represent the national side? Did he forget that even Kusal is not glamarous and originated from a rural area and later imported to a Colombo School. Grow up man. This is 2014.

  • Nipuna on May 8, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    @King_Loyal Sri Lanka became a strong team by giving chances to boys from rural areas. People like Malinga, Herath, Tharanga, Chandimal, Kulasekara, Lakmal, Chahuranga, Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Eranga. Sri Lankan team will be a minnows if cricket only limited to upper class.

    I am so proud about Upul Tharanga about the way he came back as a tsunami victim. The problem with Upul is inconsistency, shaky starter and kind of a 0 or 100 player . As I remember, he won so many man of the match awards against good teams, involved in 2 highest opening ODI partnerships That shows he is a match winner. He is a silent performer.

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