Kusal Mendis grabbed another half-century as Sri Lanka trounced Ireland by nine wickets at the T20 World Cup in Hobart on Sunday to build confidence ahead of a potentially pivotal Super 12 clash against champions Australia.
Opener Mendis, who blasted 79 in a qualifying win over the Netherlands last week, fired Sri Lanka to victory with an unbeaten 68 as his team mowed down Ireland’s 128 for eight with 30 balls to spare in the clash of qualifiers at Bellerive Oval.
Since a shock first-up loss to Namibia during qualifying, the 2014 champions Sri Lanka has now won three matches in succession.
They loom as a dangerous match-up for Australia in Perth on Tuesday with the hosts reeling from their heavy opening loss to New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday.
Ireland won the toss and chose to bat but was all but shut down by Sri Lanka’s parsimonious bowling from the halfway mark despite 45 from number four Harry Tector.
Man-of-the-match Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva (31) ensured there would be no slip-ups for the south Asians as they built a quickfire opening stand of 63 before De Silva was caught behind off the bowling of Gareth Delany.
Charith Asalanka kept up the pace with an unbeaten 31, with Mendis fittingly sealing the win by slogging spinner Simi Singh for six over square leg.