Saturday 20 January 2018

Ireland can bridge gap despite collapse – Porterfield

William Porterfield, Ireland, hits the ball away from a delivery off Sachithra Senanayake, Sri Lanka.
William Porterfield, Ireland, hits the ball away from a delivery off Sachithra Senanayake, Sri Lanka.

David Townsend

WILLIAM PORTERFIELD is confident of giving world Twenty20 champions Sri Lanka a closer game at Clontarf tomorrow after seeing Ireland well beaten by 79 runs in the opening match of the RSA Insurance One-day International Series.

Captain Porterfield top scored with 37 from 87 balls – chasing a modest victory target of 220 – but received little support from his specialist batsmen as Ireland were dismissed for 140 in 39.5 overs.

"The batting wasn't good enough, we know that, but we'll pick ourselves up," Porterfield said. "It'll be a fresh pitch next time and I'm sure we can turn them over."

Ireland had hoped to catch their opponents cold in unfamiliar conditions, but while batsmen on both sides struggled to time the ball on a slow pitch at Castle Avenue, the Sri Lanka bowlers enjoyed themselves.

"The ball did move around a lot for the seamers and the spinners," Porterfield said.

"We thought we could chase that total if we kept wickets in hand, and when we got to 60-2 we were okay. Losing the wickets was the problem, not the run-rate."

After Porterfield had won the toss, Tim Murtagh got the home side off to a perfect start with a wicket fourth ball, thanks to a superb catch at second slip by Kevin O'Brien.

Back-up seamers Alex Cusack and Stuart Thompson took a wicket each to keep the pressure on and Ireland also enjoyed a bonus when visiting captain Angelo Matthews was run-out for 30 by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien's direct hit.

Ed Joyce took a fine tumbling catch at mid-off to give George Dockrell a wicket and when Murtagh claimed a second victim for figures of 2-21 from 10 overs, the visitors were 176-8 in the 47th over.

A late rally of 39 runs from the final three overs took Sri Lanka to 219-8 and Irish hopes of chasing that down were set back when Paul Stirling played on in the second over and in-form Joyce nicked behind for a duck. Recalled Niall O'Brien started with an assured pull past mid-on and seemed to have negotiated the trickiest of the conditions when he was lbw for 33 – the first of three wickets for spinner Ajantha Mendis.

The wheels then quickly came off as Gary Wilson was sacrificed in a running mix-up with his skipper, Kevin O'Brien lobbed his first ball to mid-wicket and Thompson was beaten on the back foot by man-of-the-match Mendis.

When Porterfield swept to deep mid-wicket in search of a sixth boundary, Ireland were 86-7 and already turning thoughts to how they might level the two-match series and claim another Test-playing scalp.

Irish Independent

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