Maiden T20I half centuries by Wanindu Hasaranga and Pathum Nissanka followed by career-best figures from spinner Maheesh Theekshana helped Sri Lanka defeat Ireland in their Group A clash in the T20 World Cup on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi. By virtue of the win, the Lankans are at the top of the table and have qualified for the Super 12 stage.
The match between Ireland and Namibia on Friday is now a shootout, and the winner will progress to the Super 12 stage of the ongoing T20 World Cup.
Chasing 172, Ireland lost their opener Kevin O'Brien (5) in the very first over to Chamika Karunaratne and the innings got off to a bad start. Theekshana then got among the act as he sent Paul Stirling (7) back to the hut. Ireland went further into a slump as Hasaranga bowled Gareth Delany (2) and the side lost three wickets with just 32 runs on the board.
Curtis Campher and Andrew Balbirnie then got together at the crease and the duo stitched together a stand of 53 runs, but this finally came to an end in the 13th over as Theekshana dismissed Campher (24), reducing Ireland to 85/4.
In the end, the task proved too much for Ireland and Sri Lanka registered a 70-run win.
Earlier, Hasaranga and Nissanka registered knocks of 71 and 61 respectively as Sri Lanka posted a score of 171/7. Put into bat, Sri Lanka got off to the worst start possible as the side lost its first three wickets with just eight runs on the board. Paul Stirling dismissed Kusal Perera (0) while Joshua Little sent Dinesh Chandimal (6) and Avishka Fernando (0) back to the pavilion. Hasaranga then joined Nissanka in the middle and the duo retrieved the innings for the Islanders, with Hasaranga playing the role of the aggressor.
Hasaranga and Nissanka went great guns in the middle and at the 15-over mark, Sri Lanka's score read 130/3 with the side poised to score big runs. Ireland finally got the much-needed breakthrough in the 16th over as Mark Adair dismissed Hasaranga (71), ending the 123-run stand for the fourth wicket. In the final four overs, Sri Lanka managed to add 34 more runs, taking the score past the 170-run mark.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 171/7 (Wanindu Hasaranga 71, Pathum Nissanka 61; Joshua Little 4/23) beat Ireland 101 all out (Andrew Balbirnie 41, Curtis Campher 24; Maheesh Theekshana 3/17) by 70 runs