Ireland v Sri Lanka, Lord's, 1230 GMT, ICC World Twenty20 Group F
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By Aaron Kumar
Sri Lanka take on Ireland today and a victory would almost certainly seal their place in the semi finals of the competition.
Much of the talk this year has been about the dominance of the South Africans who yesterday posted a record sixth consecutive Twenty20 International victory. However, Sri Lanka are also unbeaten in this year's tournament, and have looked extremely impressive.
The most encouraging factor for the Sri Lankan's is the fact that as a team they all appear to be finding form at the right time, Sananth Jayasuriya rolled back the years in the group stages with a sparkling innings of 81 against the West Indies - up until that innings questions were raised about Jayasuriya and whether he could still turn in such performances; as he approaches 40 years of age, the left handed opener answered any such questions quite emphatically.
Tillakaratne Dilshan has also been a revalation for Sri Lanka and seems to relish his new role opening the batting along side Jayasuriya.
While Sri Lanka's batting does appear to be clicking at the business end of this prestigious tournament, it is the three Ms who could well hold the key to Sri Lanka's sucess, they are of course Muralitharan, Malinga and Mendis.
Muttiah Muralitharan has been one of the best bowlers of his generation and he will always play a part both as a wicket-taker and a containing bowler, but now with the support of Mendis, who is proving to be a world-class spinner in his own right, Sri Lanka effectively have two spinners bowling eight overs, for next to no runs, because batsmen are really struggling to pick either of them.
In addition to their spinners Lasith Malinga, 'the slinger', has emerged as one of the leading opening bowlers in world cricket, he makes the new ball talk and has the ability to bowl right in the block hole at the death, making it hard even for a well set batsman to score runs.
Ireland on the other hand will be desperate for a better performance than they turned in against New Zealand, they are adament that they have an upset in them and they will be hoping that it is today against Sri Lanka. It is unlikely that Ireland will make it to the last four of this competetion but they could yet spoil somebody's party and prevent them from reaching the last four.
© Cricket World 2009