British Isles: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews expects his side to improve quickly once they get used to conditions in the British Isles.
Speaking after what proved to be a comfortable 79-run victory over Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday, in the first of two one-day internationals before they arrive in England for a Test match and full ODI series, Mathews admitted it was a sluggish start but was encouraged by the performance.
"The guys were a bit scrappy today but to get over the line was a good effort," he said. "It`s only the start of the tour and when we adapt to the conditions we will perform better and better."
As expected, spin bowlers proved the Sri Lankan match-winners and Mathews always thought their total of 219 for eight would be enough.
"I was not really bothered at halfway. I knew I had the bowlers to defend the total. The pitch played pretty slow in the first half and our batters had to work hard to get to 220 and it was a very pleasing effort. It played better in the second, but the spinners were key.
"(Ajantha) Mendis bowled some really good balls as did (Sachithra) Senanayake. The two fast bowlers also came to the party.
"We didn`t know what kind of total was a good one as we haven`t played here before, and that`s why we wanted to bowl first," Mathews added.
The helpful early conditions for the bowlers left Sri Lanka at 95 for five after 30 overs, with Middlesex`s Tim Murtagh the pick of the Ireland attack.
But Nuwan Kulasekara finished strongly, scoring 42 not out from 34 balls with three fours and the only two sixes of the innings and, crucially, shared an unbroken stand of 43 in just 22 balls with Mendis.Ireland captain William Porterfield gave much of the credit for his side struggles to Mendis but said that some of the wickets lost were avoidable.
"Two new balls were always going to do something early on but to be only two down going into the 19th over with 60 on the board was good," he said.
"Mendis was always going to be a threat on that pitch. But the run out of Gary Wilson (immediately after Mendis had Niall O`Brien for 33) set us back and Kevin (O`Brien`s first ball) dismissal put us on the back foot.
"He will say he was disappointed with his shot and the loss of four wickets killed us," said Porterfield.
Those wickets fell in 29 balls as Ireland slumped from 63 for two to 74 for six, effectively ending the game as a contest; Ireland were bowled out inside 40 overs for 140 with Mendis finishing with three for 27.
But Porterfield insisted Mendis could be tamed with the help of more discipline in the batting.
"Some dismissals were avoidable but we have to pick ourselves up and come back on Thursday. Credit to Mendis but we can come through it and take him for 35 for minimum loss which would set ourselves up," said Porterfield
"On another fresh pitch, we will have a very good chance and while we are disappointed how we batted, especially through the middle overs, there`s no reason why we can`t turn them over on Thursday."