Sri Lanka and Ireland both won their first matches in Round 1 in comprehensive fashion and thus will be confident when they face each other in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Lankans rolled over Namibia for 96 in their clash and then chased down the target by seven wickets. Something similar happened in the case of Ireland. They cleaned up Netherlands for 106 and they too chased down the target by seven wickets.
Sri Lankan bowlers forced Namibia to toil and exposed their weaknesses at this level rather brutally. Off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana stood out, claiming 3 for 25. Namibia, on expected lines, failed to stand up against Wanindu Hasaranga, who helped himself to two wickets. Lahiru Kumara also picked up a couple while the rest did not give runs away. Thus, there was no escape route for Namibia batters.
Sri Lanka’s batting though was slightly disappointing. Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera and Dinesh Chandimal fell without contributing too much in the chase. Until the fourth wicket partnership between Bhanuka Rajapaksa (42 not out) and Avishka Fernando (30 not out), they looked a bit jittery
Ireland proved way too good for the Dutch. Curtis Campher claimed four wickets in four deliveries to sink the opposition batting. Fast bowler Mark Adair also throttled Netherlands with 3 for 9. Sri Lanka will, of course, pose a tougher challenge for Ireland bowlers.
Ireland lost captain Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien early in the chase before Gareth Delany’s 29-ball 44 clinched the deal. The team will want both Balbirnie and O’Brien to fire as they are important members of the batting outfit. Paul Stirling too will be expected to show greater aggression.
Sri Lanka’s Predicted XI: Kusal Perera (wk), Pathum Nissanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Chamika Karunaratne, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana, Lahiru Kumara
Ireland’s Predicted XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbirnie (c), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, Neil Rock (wk), Simi Singh, Mark Adair, Benjamin White, Joshua Little
Top fantasy picks for Sri Lanka vs Ireland clash: Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Mark Adair, Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien
--Renin Wilben Albert