By Ed Leahy at Castle Avenue
A fine spell of bowling from opener Tim Murtagh helped Ireland restrict Sri Lanka to 219 at the end of their innings in today’s RSA Insurance One-Day International Series at Clontarf.
Murtagh took two wickets in his ten-over spell for a meagre 21 runs and the Sri Lanka total could have been a lot less but for some wayward bowling late in the innings.
Ireland captain William Porterfield won the toss and elected to bowl first and that decision proved inspired as Murtagh struck in the opening over, tempting Kusal Perera, and Kevin O’Brien was on hand to make a fine catch in the slips
Sri Lanka’s slow start continued and they barely reached double figures after six overs, however, a partnership started to build between Lahiru Thirimanne and Upul Tharanga, scoring three quick boundaries to move the score along.
A change of bowling brought Alex Cusack into the attack and the partnership broke soon after as Thirimanne edged to wicketkeeper Gary Wilson with the tourists on 25 for 2.
Dinesh Chandimal came in at four to join Tharanga who was tipping away on 18 in the 13th over.
Another change of bowling for Ireland saw Stuart Thompson come into the attack and the Derryman made an impact in his third over as danger man Tharanga edged to Wilson as the visitors moved to 57-3 after 17 overs.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was in at five and looked to move the scoring along and forge a partnership with Chandimal. Mathews showing his class early on with an unstoppable drive back past the outstretched arms of diving bowler Thompson.
But Sri Lanka’s run rate was worryingly low at 65 for three after 20 overs and Ireland looked to keep that rate down, introducing spin for the first time as George Dockrell took up aim from the City End.
Sri Lanka were struggling and started to take chances and Matthews risked a run out to steal a single; the skipper just making his ground despite the best efforts of keeper Wilson’s quick hands.
With Chandimal on 37, and another fruitful partnership building, Ireland introduced Kevin O’Brien and the new bowler was rewarded with a wicket after taking another fine catch with Chandimal finally dismissed for 39, Sri Lanka now 90 for four.
Another new bowler, another wicket, as second spinner Paul Stirling tempted Kithruwan Vithanage and the ball popped up to Ed Joyce who took the catch at short fine leg as the tourists were starting to struggle on 95 for five.
Mathews and new batsman Ashan Priyanjana took the score into triple digits and the skipper led by example reaching 30 before falling to a fortuitous run out with Niall O’Brien’s accurate throw directly hitting the stumps.
Nuwan Kulasekara didn’t waste much time getting runs away as the Sri Lanka tail order needed to make an impact with the visitors looking precarious on 136 for six.
Joyce’s catch off Dockrell’s delivery put an end to a blossoming partnership as Priyanjana went for 31, the tourists now on 160 for seven.
Sachitra Senanayake came and went for three as Murtagh grabbed his second wicket, thanks to a Dockrell catch out on the ropes.
And with the score on 176 for eight, Ireland would have hoped to keep the score below 200 with only two wickets in hand and just over four over’s remaining.
But Dockrell and Cusack were both punished at the death as the visitors made the innings much more respectable, posting 219 for eight at the end of the fifty overs.
Dark clouds arrived to coincide with the break of play and Ireland will be chasing 220 after lunch, with a strong possibility of Duckworth Lewis coming into play.
Ireland team: Porterfield, Cusack, Dockrell, Joyce, Murtagh, K O'Brien, N O'Brien, Sorensen, Stirling, Tompson, Wilson.
Sri Lanka: Mathews, Janith, Tharanga, Thirimanne, Chandimal, Priyanjana, Vithanage, Senanayake, Kulasekara, Lakmal, Mendis.