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One Day Internationals: Ireland v Sri Lanka Preview
Sri Lanka and Ireland will go head to head in the first of two ODIs to be played in Dublin this week.
Sri Lanka will play Ireland in two ODIs in a bit of a bizarre two-game series wedged firmly between the Asians’ final Test and first ODI against the English.
Both matches will take place at Malahide in Dublin. The Irish will use the match as a gauge to see how well they compare to a full member nation while the Sri Lankans will use the two matches to prepare for what will be a hotly contested ODI series against the English.
Ireland vs Sri Lanka | Thursday 16 June | Malahide | 11:30
To Win Match
Ireland 22/10 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 7/20
The Irish will come into this game off the back of a rather disappointing World T20 campaign in India in which the men from the Emerald Isle failed to claim any big scalps during the tournament – something they’ve built up a bit of a reputation for over the last 10 years.
While they have undoubted quality in their ranks, failure to regularly play against the world’s top national has hindered their progress in recent years. That said, the majority of their current batch of players ply their trade in England, playing County Cricket across the two divisions.
Key to their hopes this Thursday will be their talismanic captain, William Porterfield. The Warwickshire opener is far and away Ireland’s best player, averaging just over 30 in ODIs, he will need to lay the platform for his side against a strong Sri Lankan bowling attack. A classy stroke-maker, the left-hander will be quick to capitalise on any width on offer from Angelo Matthews and co.
The Irish have one or two injury concerns, chief-among-those being the elbow injury to Craig Young. The right-arm seamer will be a massive miss for Ireland as they look to claim an unlikely victory against a Sri Lankan side still smarting from a disappointing Test series against the English.
All in all, the Irish don’t look as strong as they have in the past and could well battle to grind out a result against their Asian opposition who will all be desperate to nail down starting berths for their upcoming limited overs series against England.
This could be just the thing that the Sri Lankans need to kick them into gear on their tour of the British Isles after a rather disappointing three-match Test series against the English. They do, however, seem to be finding their feet in the swinging conditions as demonstrated by their heartening performance in the third Test at Lord’s.
Graham Ford has selected quite a sizable squad for the two Irish ODIs, choosing to bring along 21 players. Whether or not this squad will be cut following the series against Ireland remains to be seen.
I hope for the sake of the neutral that Ford gives some of his more inexperienced players a run against the Irish. I’d like to see Danushka Gunathilaka get a game or two. The batting all-rounder has struggled to nail down a place in the national set-up following the Sri Lankan tour in New Zealand toward the back end of last year. He most certainly does possess the talent to make it at this level – as much was evident in New Zealand where he smashed his was to 65 in Nelson, picking up the man-of-the-match award in the process.
Kusal Mendis is another player I’m looking forward to seeing more of. The 21-year-old has been in good touch against the English in the Test leg of the series. The young right-hander has only played a handful of games at senior level – 22 first-class and 14 List A – but there is enough to suggest that he could be the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket, especially after helping himself to three half-centuries in the Test series against England. Even more impressive, two of those scores came in Leeds and Chester-le-Street in swinging conditions.
Looking ahead, the Sri Lankans will be desperately keen to quash the threat that the Irish pose and to get their heads right before taking on the English over the course of the next few weeks. That said, they should be too hot for this Irish side to handle and should win the series 2-0, weather permitting.
Verdict: Sri Lanka 9/25
Sri Lanka simply have too much quality to really be worried about the threat that the Irish pose. Back them to comfortably beat the Irish at 9/25.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.