Sri Lanka defeated Ireland by 70 runs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi to become the first team to qualify for the Super 12 stage in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2021 on Wednesday.
Chasing the massive target of 172, Ireland didn’t start well as the experienced opening duo of Kevin O Brien (5), and Paul Stirling (7) were dismissed early. Soon, Gareth Delany (2) also lost his wicket as the Irish side were reduced to 32/3 in 4.2 overs.
Then, captain Andrew Balbirnie and all-rounder Curtis Campher tried to calm things down. The pair added a vital partnership of 53 runs to stabilise the innings before Maheesh Theekshana broke the stand by removing Campher for 24.
The dismissal of Campher opened floodgates as Ireland were bundled out for 101, to lose the contest by a huge margin of 70 runs. Theekshana ended up picking three scalps for 17 runs in his quota of 4 overs. Similarly, Chamika Karunaratne (2/27) and Lahiru Kumara (2/22) bagged two wickets each.
Earlier, Sri Lanka had a terrible start losing three wickets for just 8 runs in 1.4 overs. Then, opener Pathum Nissanka and all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga took charge to take the Islanders out of trouble. The pair put together a much-needed stand of 123 runs for the fourth wicket.
Both the batters smashed respective half-centuries to bring back Sri Lanka into the game. While Nissanka scored 61 runs off 47 balls, Hasaranga top-scored with 71 from 47 deliveries with the help of 11 boundaries.
Captain Dasun Shanaka chipped in with an unbeaten 21 to help Sri Lanka post 171/7 in their allotted 20 overs.
For the Irish side, Joshua Little was their most successful bowler. The left-armer picked up a four-wicket haul while giving away 23 runs in his quota of 4 overs. Apart from Little, Mark Adair bagged a couple of scalps, and Stirling took one wicket.
Here is how Twitter reacted:
Sri Lanka beat Ireland by a whopping margin of 70 runs! 👊
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) October 20, 2021
As expected clinical bowling performance. Good win under pressure & with competition getting tougher top order batting woes is a huge concern! Can sense a change or 2 with conditions be different in Sharjah. Keep going lads! Onwards & upwards👍🏽 @OfficialSLC #T20WorldCup #SLvIRE
— Farveez Maharoof (@farveezmaharoof) October 20, 2021
Brilliant.. brilliant from @OfficialSLC great resilience .. Congratulations on progressing and achieving the first goal. Now for bigger challenges 👏👏👏
— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) October 20, 2021
— Angelo Mathews (@Angelo69Mathews) October 20, 2021
— ICC (@ICC) October 20, 2021
— Sri Lanka Tweet 🇱🇰 💉 (@SriLankaTweet) October 20, 2021
21-year old 'Mystery' spinner Maheesh Theekshana is currently the leading wicket-taker in the #T20WorldCup with 6 wickets in 2 matches.
vs Namibia – 3/25
vs Ireland – 3/17
— Damith Weerasinghe (@Damith1994) October 20, 2021
— Sritama Panda (@cricketpun_duh) October 20, 2021
Excellent day out for Wanidu. We knew he can do it from the start, revived Sri Lanka with the bat first before the bowling unit came together to smash Ireland. They will want to sort the top order blues, should be fun watching them play with this combination.
— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) October 20, 2021
Maheesh Theekshana, came into the World Cup with 3 matches experience in T20I, just 21 year old and has picked 6 wickets from 2 matches and made it easier for Sri Lanka to qualify into Super 12.
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) October 20, 2021
— Dinuka Nirmal (@DinukaNirmal) October 20, 2021
Sri Lanka display brilliant form with bat and ball to register the second consecutive win of the Round 1 of ICC T20 World Cup brushing past Ireland by 70 runs. We are the first team into the Super 12s from Round 1. ✅🇱🇰🏏#T20WorldCup #SL #SLvIRE #ApeKollo pic.twitter.com/y9lgsTIHv5
— Kandy Tuskers (@KandyLPL) October 20, 2021