Ireland beaten by Sri Lanka in World Cup opener

Sri Lanka started the ICC U19 World Cup with a victory
Sri Lanka started the ICC U19 World Cup with a victory
©ICC Media Zone

Ireland's Under 19's have been beaten by seven wickets against Sri Lanka in their opening World Cup match in New Zealand.

Batting first in a contest reduced to 48 overs by rain, Ireland openers Jamie Grassi and Mark Donegan gave their side an excellent platform with a steady 73-run partnership.

Hills left-hander Donegan made 36, but his dismissal saw the Irish innings stutter, not helped by the run outs of Morgan Topping and skipper Harry Tector.

Grassi played beautifully unleashing a number of his trademark powerful cover drives, hitting seven fours and one six as he top scored with 75 from 117 balls.

Josh Little clubbed 25 to give the Irish innings late impetus, as he and Aaron Cawley added 34 in the last four overs to push the Irish total to 207 for 8.

Ambidextrous Sri Lankan spinner Kamindu Mendis (3-31) was the pick of the Asian attack.

Munster teenager Cawley shared the new ball duties with Little and had their team dreaming of victory as he snared two early wickets to leave Sri Lanka reeling on 9 for 2.

Sri Lanka regrouped with a 3rd wicket stand of 42, but when Max Neville struck the game was very much in the balance at 51 for 3.

However Irish hopes of causing an upset were ended by opener Dhananjaya Lakshan and skipper Mendis who shared an unbroken fourth wicket partnership of 157 in just 154 balls to seal the win with more than 10 overs to spare.

Lakshan's unbeaten 101 was enough to earn him the Man-of-the-Match award pipping Mendis who finished on 74.

North County opener Grassi reflected honestly on the performance afterwards, feeling Ireland had failed to capitalise on their solid start, missing a few opportunities along the way.

"One of the first things me and Mark Donegan talked about when we walked out to the middle was we hadn't had a good partnership in a long time. We told ourselves to enjoy it and have a good Fingal partnership! We set up a great platform but unfortunately after he got out our running between the wickets wasn't great which led to run outs. We got bogged down a little bit in the middle overs and didn't rotate the strike very well which we had done at the start.

"It was nice to get a good score first up but it was a little disappointing not to kick on and get the ton. It's a good felling having runs in the bank and have a bit of form going into the next few games behind me, but it's a pity we didn't get a win.

"With the ball Aaron Cawley and Josh Little bowled well at the start, with Max Neville bowling good heat and Harry Tector had a good ten-over spell. In the field we missed a few run-out opportunities which could have sent the game into our hands. We died a little bit with the heat and our fielding lost intensity and became a little sloppy."

Despite the defeat, Grassi feels the lessons learned will stand them in good stead as the competition progresses.

"We'll have learned a lot from this game and that will help us going into our next match against Pakistan which will obviously be tough. We were hampered by having three warm-up games washed-out but we'll take the positives from this game and be stronger as a team come Tuesday."

Ireland's next match in the tournament against Pakistan gets under way on Tuesday morning in New Zealand at the same venue.

Ireland U19 v Sri Lanka U19, World Cup Group D, at Cobham Oval, Whangarei,

Ireland 206/8 (48 overs; Jamie Grassi 75, Mark Donegan 36, Josh Little 25; Kamindu Mendis 3-35)

Sri Lanka 208/3 (37.3 overs; Dhananjaya Lakshan 101*, Kamindu Mendis 74*; Aaron Cawley 2-26)