Sri Lanka aim for improvement, Ireland for rankings boost
Sri Lanka's tour continues with two One-Day Internationals this week against Ireland, with the games to be played in Malahide on Thursday 16th and Saturday 18th June.
The countries have previously met twice in ODIs, with Sri Lanka running out comfortable winners on both occasions – in 2014 in Ireland, and during the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
Sri Lanka will be led as usual by Angelo Mathews, with Milinda Siriwardana, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perara joining Rangana Herath, who has retired from the format, in leaving the touring party that has recently taken part in the Test series against England.
In their place Farveez Maharoof, who last played an ODI in 2012, comes into the squad, where he is joined by Upul Tharanga, Seekkuge Prasanna, Danushka Gunathilaka and Suraj Randiv who are added to the remaining members of the Test squad. The matches against Ireland precede a five-match ODI series against England beginning on 21st June at Trent Bridge.
With Tillakarantne Dilshan opting to miss this tour, Mathews will be hoping that Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis continue the improvement in form they showed with the bat as the Test series progressed to underpin the Sri Lankan batting along with the captain himself and Upul Tharanga who has recently completed a prolific first-class season in Sri Lanka.
Most of the responsibility in the bowling attack will rest with Nuwan Pradeep, leading wicket-taker for the tourists in the recent Test series, and Maharoof, who has earned his recall after finishing as leading wicket-taker in the recent List A competition in Sri Lanka.
Ireland have named an experienced squad led by Will Porterfield of Warwickshire. Seven of the players in the original squad have over 100 international appearances as they embark on a programme of 11 ODIs before September, which they will aim to boost their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup by moving up the world rankings.
Porterfield, along with Sussex’s Ed Joyce and Kevin O’Brien, are the most established names in the batting line up, which has been depleted by the loss of Leicestershire’s Niall O’Brien to a calf injury sustained in the game against Warwickshire. His replacement John Anderson has been scoring heavily in both domestic and inter-provincial cricket and was close to a call up to the original squad.
The bowling department includes Tim Murtagh of Middlesex and is strengthened by the addition of Barry McCarthy after his recent maiden five-wicket haul for Durham and Max Sorensen, who took six wickets in last week’s victory against Scotland A.
Both games in the KPC Group two-game series start at 10.45am and promise to be entertaining fixtures, with both sides having plenty to play for: the hosts are looking to move up the ODI rankings throughout this season, while Sri Lanka will hope to use the series to gain some good quality preparation for the forthcoming series against England which looks to be a difficult assignment for them.
With the above borne in mind, and the current weather providing some very "English" conditions, I can see a tight series with Sri Lanka edging both games.
© Cricket World 2016