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Sri Lanka show Irish no mercy


IRELAND failed to cope with Ajantha Mendis as they lost the first of two one-day cricket internationals against Sri Lanka by 79 runs.

The hosts had their illustrious opponents 95 for five and 176 for eight, but the momentum swung as Mendis and Nuwan Kulasekara hit 43 from the final 22 balls and Ireland then slipped to five for two.

A 50 partnership between captain William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien was as good as it got as Mendis took three for 26 from his 10 overs to help bowl Ireland out for 140.

Kusal Perera fell to the fourth ball of the match and Lahiru Thirimanne (eight) edged Alex Cusack to wicketkeeper Gary Wilson. Stuart Thompson had Upul Tharanga (24) nicking to Wilson, making it 57 for three, and Dinesh Chandimal's innings of 39 was brilliantly ended by Kevin O'Brien's catch off his own bowling.

Paul Stirling then struck with his second ball, Kithuruwan Vithanage edging to Ed Joyce at slip, before Sri Lanka's century came up, five down, from the last ball of the 31st over.

The key wicket of Angelo Mathews (30) came via a direct hit from Niall O'Brien but new man Kulasekara quickly lifted Cusack for a straight six.

Ashan Priyanjan made 31 from 44 balls, with four boundaries, before chipping Dockrell to Joyce at mid-on and Tim Murtagh (two for 21) removed Sachithra Senanayake for three.

But Dockrell haemorrhaged 17 runs in the 48th over including three successive boundaries for Mendis, who finished 18 not out from only nine balls with Kulasekara 42 not out from 34.

Ireland started badly as Stirling edged Kulasekara for four but was bowled next ball and Joyce failed to trouble the scorers.

Porterfield and Niall O'Brien produced a handful of boundaries in a stand of 58 before the latter fell lbw to Mendis for 33.

Wilson (three) was shambolically run out and Kevin O'Brien holed out first ball off Suranga Lakmal, and when Thompson was trapped on the crease by Mendis, Ireland were 74 for six.

Their last hope went when Porterfield (37) hoisted Mendis to Perera while Cusack made 10 before being yorked by Lakmal (three for 29). Max Sorensen (17) was dismissed from the first ball after drinks and though Dockrell (18no) and Murtagh (10) went down fighting, the Middlesex paceman was trapped lbw by Senanayake after hitting two boundaries.