A brilliant unbeaten century from Dhananjaya Lakshan helped Sri Lanka start their World Cup campaign with a comprehensive seven-wicket victory against Ireland on Sunday (January 14) in Whangarei.
In a game that was reduced to 48 overs, the fortunes swung like a pendulum before Sri Lanka asserted their authority to win the game.
Chasing 207, the Islanders were initially in huge trouble before an unbeaten 157-run stand between Lakshan and skipper Kamindu Mendis took the side home. Sri Lanka began their chase on a dismal note, as Aaron Cawley dismissed opener Hasitha Boyagoda for a four-ball duck.
Five runs later, Cawley struck again to remove Nipun Dananjaya for just one. A 42-run stand between Lakshan and Krishan Arachchige stopped the rot for a while before Max Neville dismissed the latter to reduce Sri Lanka to 51 for three and put Ireland on top.
But Lakshan and Mendis did not allow the European country to make further inroads, as the duo started the recovery work. In fact, even with their team in slight trouble, Mendis and Lakshan did not refrain from playing their natural games, as they scored at a good pace and the pressure soon dissipated.
The aggressive approach paid off, as Ireland could not find a way to break the stand. The Islanders eventually reached the target in the 38th over. Lakshan was unbeaten on 101 off 120 balls and was well supported by Mendis who scored 74 off 73.
Earlier, Jamie Grassi’s 75-run knock helped Ireland to post 206 for eight in the allotted 48 overs. Ireland captain Harry Tector’s decision to bat first was proven right by the openers – Grassi and Mark Donegan, as the duo added 73 runs for the first wicket before the latter got dismissed for 36.
Towards the end, Joshua Little’s 19-ball 25 and his 34-stand for the eighth wicket with Aaron Cawley (9 not out) helped Ireland cross the 200-run mark.
Sri Lanka 208 for 3 (Lakshan 101*, Mendis 74*, Cawley 2-26) beat Ireland 206 for 8 (Grassi 75, Mendis 3-35) by seven wickets.