Dublin: Sri Lanka scored 39 runs from the last three overs to leave Ireland a victory target of 220 in the first one-day international at Clontarf, Dublin today.
Nuwan Kulasekara top scored, from No 8, with an undefeated 42 from 34 balls, including three fours and the only two sixes of the innings. He received good support from Ashan Priyanjana who made 31 and Ajantha Mendis who cracked three boundaries in his 18 not out from just nine balls.
With Kulasekara, he put on 43 in the last 22 balls to help Sri Lanka to a total of 219 for eight from their full 50 overs. The Sri Lankans, the reigning World Twenty20 champions, have arrived in Dublin without five of their star players ahead of upcoming limited overs and Test series in England.
And for much of the innings Ireland`s bowlers capitalised on the absence of star batsmen such as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, the latter currently playing for English county side Durham.
Midlesex paceman Tim Murtagh was the pick of the seven Ireland bowlers with two wickets for just 21 runs from his full 10 overs. Murtagh took a wicket with the fourth ball, having Kusal Perera brilliantly caught low at second slip by Kevin O`Brien and Ireland maintained the early pressure when Lahiru Thirimanne was caught behind in the ninth over with the total on 25.
Dinesh Chandimal joined Upal Tharanga and he dominated the next two partnerships to get the visitors up to 90 for four in the 26th over, O`Brien ending Chandimal`s free-scoring knock of 39 with his second ball.
Kithruwan Vithanage followed almost immediately, caught at slip in Paul Stirling`s first over and at 97 for five in the 30th, there was no doubting which side was on top. But Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews led the fightback and the tail impressively completed what could be a decisive turnaround on a slow pitch which promises to favour the tourists` spinners.