Lanka survives a scare

Requiring 18 off the last over, Ireland, chasing 145, fell short by nine runs. It was a match where Ireland tested the Lankan resolve, writes S. Dinakar.

Ireland put up a brave fight but Lasith Malinga’s pace and swing had the final say. The Lankans have the variety in the attack to come through tough situations.

Requiring 18 off the last over, Ireland, chasing 145, fell short by nine runs. The Lankans survived a scare to notch up their second straight Super Eight win in Group ‘F’.

A battling John Mooney had given Ireland hope; 18 runs were rattled up in the penultimate over sent down by Nuwan Kulasekara. But slinger Malinga was on the ball in the final stretch. His full length and swing settled the issue.

It was a match where Ireland tested the Lankan resolve. Boyd Rankin sent the in-form Tillekeratne Dilshan packing in the first over and wily veteran Trent Johnson snared skipper Kumar Sangakkara outside the off-stump.

Mahela Jayawardene — named Man of the Match — held the innings together compiling 78 (53b, 9x4, 1x6) with some delicate stroke play in a format meant for slam-bang cricket. The former Lankan captain does have soft hands and an instinctive ability to find gaps. Of course, when the occasion demanded, he struck the ball with power.

With footwork being his greatest ally, he got to the pitch of the ball to loft or swing over the infield or create room for the inside-out shots.

In the context of the loss of two early wickets, Sanath Jayasuriya’s run-a-ball 27 was a valuable effort; he put together a partnership with Jayawardene to ensure that the Lankans did not go down the slippery path.

Apart from the knocks from Jayawardene and Jayasuriya, there was little in the Lankan innings; a fact that would worry the think-tank ahead of the bigger games.

Off-spinner McCallan was steady even as he picked wickets in the middle-overs. And the Australian-born Alex Cusack scalped four in the latter stages of the innings; he is just about medium pace but his yorkers were on target.

The Lankans were baulked upfront by the opening pair of skipper William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien; the two gathered 59 in 9.1 overs. Porterfield drove, pulled and swept with aplomb. Niall essayed some spunky shots, none more daring than the revere-sweep off Ajantha Mendis.

Keeper Sangakkara’s alertness and safe gloves ended Porterfield’s knock (31 off 29 balls) as he edged an attempted cut off Muttiah Muralitharan. Andrew White (22 off 21 balls) sizzled briefly before perishing to the otherwise expensive Kulasekara. The biggest blow to Ireland was dealt by the stump-to-stump Mendis, who dismissed Kevin O’ Brien, the heavy hitter in the Irish camp. Mendis removed Niall (31 off 37) in the same over — the 15th of the innings — when the batsman was smartly stumped by Sangakkara. The Irish hopes were revived in the 19th over but the Lankans hung on.

THE SCORES Ireland v Sri Lanka Result: Sri Lanka won by 9 runs.

Sri Lanka: T. M. Dilshan c N. J. O’Brien b Rankin 0, S. T. Jayasuriya lbw b McCallan 27, K. C Sangakkara c N. J. O’Brien b Johnston 3, D. P. M. D. Jayawardene b Cusack 78, L. P. C. Silva c Rankin b McCallan 4, J. Mubarak c N. J. O’Brien b Cusack 7, A. D. Mathews b Cusack 10, K. M. D. N. Kulasekara c Mooney b Rankin 1, M. Muralitharan st N. J. O’Brien b Cusack 0, S. L. Malinga (not out) 1, B. A. W. Mendis (not out) 4, Extras (lb-5, w-4) 9. Total (for 9 wkts; 20 overs) 144.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-14, 3-81, 4-97, 5-126, 6-128, 7-132, 8-139, 9-140.

Ireland bowling: W. B. Rankin 4-0-27-2, D. T. Johnston 4-1-18-1, R. M. West 4-0-34-0, W. K. McCallan 4-0-33-2, A. R. Cusack 3-0-18-4, K. J. O’Brien 1-0-9-0.

Ireland: W. T. S. Porterfield c Sangakkara b Muralitharan 31, N. J. O’Brien st Sangakkara b Mendis 31, A. R. White c Sangakkara b Kulasekara 22, K. J. O’Brien c Dilshan b Mendis 0, J. F. Mooney (not out) 31, D. T. Johnston b Malinga 9, A. C. Botha b Malinga 0, A. R. Cusack (run out) 2, R. M. West (not out) 1, Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-3, nb-1) 8. Total (for 7 wkts; 20 overs) 135.

Fall of wickets: 1-59, 2-87, 3-89, 4-91, 5-106, 6-106, 7-129.

Sri Lanka bowling: A. D. Mathews 3-0-23-0, K. M. D. N. Kulasekara 4-0-47-1, B. A. W. Mendis 4-0-22-2, S. L. Malinga 4-0-19-2, M. Muralitharan 4-0-13-1, S. T. Jayasuriya 1-0-7-0.