Ireland Squashed in Three Days at Galle: Fidel & Danny Report

 Andrew Fidel Fernando in ESPNcricinfo, 22 April 2023 ….

Sri Lanka 591 for 6 (Karunaratne 179, K Mendis 140, Samarawickrama 104*, Chandimal 102*) beat Ireland 143 (Tucker 45, Jayasuriya 7-52) and 168 (Tector 42, R Mendis 4-76, 3-56) by an innings and 280 runs
Ramesh Mendis celebrates a wicket
Ireland’s collapse rolled into day three in Galle, as Sri Lanka’s spinners scythed through them twice, to secure an innings-and-280 run victory with Prabath Jayasuriya claiming a 10-wicket haul.

Madushka pulls off two stunning catches at forward short-leg

Ireland were always likely to struggle here. They had never played in Sri Lanka before, and were thrust into unforgiving April heat, without so much as a practice match to acclimatise. But where they had given a decent account of their skills against Bangladesh, earlier this month losing the match in Mirpur by only seven wickets, they almost never strung together competitive passages in this Test.
After Sri Lanka amassed 591 for the loss of only six wickets, Ireland lost 20 wickets for 311. They only managed two fifty partnerships across their innings – Harry Tector involved in both of those. After four Sri Lanka batters had hit hundreds, the highest individual score Ireland managed was 45 (Lorcan Tucker in the first innings).
Day three was a blur of wickets. Ireland had begun the day on 117 for 7, but having added 23 to the overnight score, lost their last three in a heap, the team’s score at 143. Jayasuriya added two wickets to his overnight haul of five, trapping Tucker lbw, then having an advancing Mark Adair stumped two balls later. Offspinner Ramesh Mendis then claimed his first wicket of the game, getting Andy McBrine lbw with a sliding delivery – the not-out decision was overturned on review – to end the innings.
His bowlers having delivered less than 53 overs in the first innings, and with Ireland still 448 runs behind, captain Dimuth Karunaratne could not have had many qualms in enforcing the follow-on.
Mendis, who struggled a little for rhythm on day two, would become Ireland’s primary threat in the second innings. But he did not get his first breakthrough until after left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando had struck first. As in the first innings, Fernando removed Murray Commins for a duck, the batter picking up a pair. And then he also claimed the wicket of captain Andy Balbirnie for the second time in the match, seaming a back of a length delivery away, to collect his edge. Dhananjaya de Silva held on to a sharp catch at slip.
From there, the spinners took over. Jayasuriya had James McCollum caught at slip, de Silva taking another good catch. In his next over, he also got Tucker lbw, the batter reviewing unsuccessfully. Mendis then had Peter Moor caught athletically at short leg by Nishan Madushka – the second excellent catch he’d taken in that position.
Ireland then built the only partnership that might pass as a resistance, with Tector and Curtis Campher combining for 60 for the sixth wicket, before another spectacular Madushka grab ended it. Seeing Campher going down for a paddle sweep, Madushka shuffled to his right, anticipating the trajectory of the shot, and got both hands to the chance, that came at about knee-height.
From there, a day-three finish seemed inevitable. George Dockrell struck six boundaries in his 54-ball 32, but Mendis charged on. And worse, for Ireland, they lost Tector to a terrible run out – Dockrell turning Tector back after Tector had called for an ill-advised single, before Tector slipped mid-pitch, lost his bat as he tried to turn back, and was short by more than a metre as he tried to dive back in.
When Mendis had Mcbrine caught at gully, he equalled Ajantha Mendis’ Sri Lanka record for fastest bowler to 50 wickets, both bowlers doing it in 11 Tests. Mendis has only played two Tests outside Sri Lanka however, and eight of his Tests have been in Galle, where spinners are known to dominate.
Jayasuriya, who had been straining for a ten-wicket haul, completed it with the last wicket of the game, getting Ben White plumb in front with a straightening delivery.


Danny Byrne: Sri Lanka complete a comfortable victory in three days: Day Three in Galle”

The fan wasn’t working behind our seats this morning. We asked the staff to try to fix it and about 6 people gathered around and looked at the two wires sticking out of the wall. Screwdrivers appeared and the wires were put back in place, but still there was no respite from the heat. The fan refused to rotate.

Prabath continued with his spell from the Fort End with overnight figures of 19 – 9 – 42 – 5. We were informed that Balbirnie’s dismissal the previous day involved the ball coming off the boot, shoulder and helmet of the fielder at short leg before the catch was completed. Tucker took three boundaries from Asitha Fernando’s second over of the morning and Vishwa immediately replaced him. Tucker managed to add a further 24 to his overnight total of 21 before being lbw to Prabath. Adair was stumped charging down the wicket to his second delivery (143 – 9) and Prabath had his seventh victim. McBrine was lbw to Ramesh Mendis in the next over and Ireland was all out for 143 from 52.3 overs after only 34 minutes of play in the morning.

We speculated whether Sri Lanka would bat again with a lead of 448 to ensure the game went into a fourth day to please the sponsors, but common sense prevailed, and the follow-on was enforced. Prabath continued bowling from the Fort End having already notched up figures of 7–52 in the first innings. Commins was caught at point playing a poor shot to a rising delivery from Vishwa Fernando (0 –1). Balbirnie survived a confident lbw appeal to his first delivery, the ball shown to be pitching just outside the line of leg stump when the Sri Lankans called for a Review. Three overs later Balbirnie edged a ball from Vishwa that moved away from him and Dhananjaya de Silva took a good catch at first slip (8–2). McCollum was also caught by Dhananjaya at slip attempting a drive to Prabath and Ireland were in trouble again on 24–3.

The clock in front of the Pavilion was going crazy spinning around before settling at 3.40 as if trying to predict the time the match would finish. Tucker took a big stride down the wicket and missed an attempted sweep only to be immediately given out lbw by Adrian Holdstock (32–4). It was Prabath’s 9th wicket of the match. Moor was caught at short leg off Mendis (40–5) and at lunch Ireland had reached 41–5 from 16 overs. During the interval the Ireland supporters were either busy making plans for the extra two days or queuing at the bar or both.

Campher and Tector batted through the first hour after lunch without looking in any trouble apart from when Asitha hit Tector with a bouncer he probably wasn’t expecting. Campher was brilliantly caught at backward short leg by Madushka off Ramesh Mendis and the 60 run partnership was brought to an end (100– 6). The band had been annoying me all day and someone near me suggested we ask them if they would be amenable to taking requests. We wanted to ask them to play over the hill and far away, but were worried that they might come up with a song of that name.

Tragedy sometimes turns into farce when things go wrong on a cricket field and when Dockrell failed to move following Tector’s call for a run, the tall batsman slipped on trying to turn back, fell, lost his bat and was cruelly run out for 42 ( 108–7). A group of three crows landed on the DRS camera located in front of where we were sitting and clearly adjusted its alignment. McBrine was caught low at slip by Kusal Mendis ( 131 – 8 ) to give Ramesh Mendis his third wicket of the innings. The Tea interval rescued Ireland shortly afterwards with the score 135 –8 from 46 overs. 94 runs had been added in the session for the loss of 4 wickets from 30 overs.

With the game due to end soon after the resumption, a group of electricians turned up to address the problem with the electric fan. They produced a new model, or rather a used item that may have had only one owner. Having had the foresight to remove the plug in advance, they went about the task of trying to force the loose wires into the socket once again with a screwdriver. At least two different sockets were chosen for this experiment, and they still failed to get the fan to start working. They will have five full days to fix the problem, but rest assured no-one will even think about it until I complain that the fan isn’t working at around 9.30 am on 24th April.

I overheard one of the expat drinkers behind me telling a story that may or may not have been a true tale regarding the driving skills and awareness of tuk tuk drivers in Sri Lanka. Apparently one of them was taking his driving test having been allowed some time to familiarise himself with a range of road signs in advance. The examiner asked him what was the most likely sign he would come across every day while driving on the road. The chap stopped to think about it and finally replied “Fresh strawberries for sale”. Meanwhile one of the technicians turned up to fix the camera the crows had attempted to thrash, and play resumed with Mark Adair swinging the bat.

A few clean hits to the boundary ensured the Ireland total would surpass the first innings effort and by the time Dockrell was lbw to Ramesh Mendis the score had risen to 167–9. White was lbw to Prabath in the next over and Ireland was all out for 168. Sri Lanka had won by an innings and 280 runs and for the first time in their Test history the Irish were well and truly trounced. Prabath finished with match figures of 10–108 and Ramesh Mendis ended up with 4–76 in the second innings. Stirling will join the Irish team for the next Test, but on this performance, they would need Bradman, Sobers and Warne too in order to have any chance of beating the Sri Lankans in Galle.


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One response to “Ireland Squashed in Three Days at Galle: Fidel & Danny Report

  1. Dickie Bird

    Dhananjaya & Kusal.Mendis are the best slippers in the SL side for sometime taking good catches and sharp chances..
    Kusal of course is a WKeeper..
    Then Madushka showed how a WK can be effective fielding close in with reflexes.

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