Match facts

Saturday, June 18
Start time 10.45 local (0945 GMT)

Big picture

Two months ago in Dublin, Cricket Ireland unveiled an ambitious scheme in which it sought to rid the game of its elitist perception and become, by 2020, a mainstream sport to rank alongside the Emerald Isle's big three: rugby, football and GAA.

Nobody expects it to be an overnight process, least of all coming at a time - ten years on from their maiden ODI - when many of the players who have carried the side so far, so quickly, are coming to the end of their careers.

But Thursday's first match against Sri Lanka was a dispiriting setback nonetheless, as a calm century from Dinesh Chandimal and another remarkable international format debut from Dasun Shanaka proved sufficient to overwhelm a host nation whose hopes faded with the dismissal of their captain William Porterfield, for 73, and then collapsed in an undignified heap with their last six wickets tumbling for 18 runs.

A further reminder of cricket's second-tier status will be on parade during the second ODI - albeit one that would cause palpitations for any county ground hosting England for a major match. The Republic of Ireland's campaign in Euro 2016 will reach a critical juncture during the early stages of the second innings, when they kick off against Belgium in Bordeaux.

To their credit, the organisers at Malahide have taken that contest in their stride, with decent advance sales of 2000 tickets, allied to a relaxed gate policy that will make it easy for spectators to come and go when the conflicting priorities kick in.

But for the sake of their ambitions at the start of the busiest home season in their history, Ireland need an improved performance against Sri Lanka, having now had a good sighter of both the conditions and a set of opponents whose early tour angst in the Test series against England is now a distant memory.

Form guide

Ireland: LWLLL (last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLWLL

In the spotlight

Dasun Shanaka was underestimated by England when he wobbled through their top order in the first Test at Headingley last month, and he produced a similar display of canny seam and swing to dismember Ireland's lower-middle order in the opening fixture. Only 12 bowlers in ODI history have taken five wickets on debut, and few of them will have clobbered 42 runs from 19 balls as an hors d'oeuvre. It's been an impressive arrival.

Barry McCarthy had a debut to remember as well. He needed just two deliveries to claim the first wicket of his international career, when Danushka Gunathilaka edged his burly seam to slip. As a 20-year-old net bowler in 2013, a sharp spell in the Malahide nets ahead of England's fixture in September caught the eye of Ben Stokes, who then recommended McCarthy for a trial at Durham. He went on to become the first Irishman since the 19th Century to play county cricket before making an international appearance.

Team news

With McCarthy seemingly having earned a follow-up appearance, Max Sorensen could be the seamer to make way if Andy McBrine's offspin is deemed worthy of an outing.

Ireland (possible): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 John Anderson, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Stuart Poynter, 7 Gary Wilson (wk), 8 Andy McBrine, 9 Barry McCarthy, 10 Tim Murtagh, 11 Boyd Rankin

Sri Lanka's batting line-up for the opening match featured the improbable sight of Upul Tharanga coming in at No. 8, an indication of how many options and alternatives their line-up possesses. Kusal Perera, restored to the top of the order after his successful return during the Test series, offers an explosive point of difference.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Lahiru Thirimanne/Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Upul Tharanga/Farveez Maharoof, 8 Seekkuge Prasanna, 9 Suraj Randiv, 10 Shaminda Eranga, 11 Suranga Lakmal

Pitch and conditions

Despite rain in the air, not to mention Northern Ireland's stunning Euro 2016 victory over Ukraine which provided an alternative focus for the crowd, Thursday's first ODI produced more than 500 runs across 90.4 overs, which would have been more but for Ireland's alarming collapse. Sri Lanka proved there are runs on offer, but both sides' seamers enjoyed the assistance on offer from the surface.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland have yet to beat Sri Lanka in five ODI encounters, with three losses and two abandonments.

  • Ireland have never yet won an ODI in Dublin against a Full Member nation. Their best result in nine previous matches was a tie with Pakistan at Clontarf in 2013.

Quotes

"We need to put a couple of things right that we didn't do, a couple of more partnerships with the bat, and even myself or Kevin [O'Brien] or the lads that get in, kicking on a little bit more and getting that score that's going to take us up to close to a winning score."
Ireland captain William Porterfield pinpoints improvements his side can make

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket