Lanka start favourite against spirited Ireland

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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St George's (Grenada):Odds are heavily stacked in favour of former champion Sri Lanka as they take on Ireland in their last Super Eight league match of the World Cup here on Wednesday.

Though Ireland managed to pip Bangladesh in their last match but they will undoubtedly find it tough against the Lions in their last World Cup assignment.

The match is only of academic interest as both the teams have already achieved their aims with Sri Lanka through to the semis, and Ireland achieving what no other debutant has ever achieved in the history of the mega event - defeated two Test playing nations Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively - which eventually saw the enter the ODI rankings.

For Ireland, the win over Bangladesh was what they looked for after qualifying for the second round of the tournament.

It was a huge moment for Trent Johnston's enthusiastic team, who have won hearts around the Caribbean with their spirited - if uneven - cricket.

Against Bangladesh, Irish openers, William Porterfield and Jeremy Bray set the trend with a 92-run partnership which was later built on by the likes of Kevin O'Brien and the skipper himself.

Porterfield top-scored with a sedate 85, and with the ball, all five Irish bowlers tasted success.

On the other hand, having lost to Australia, Sri Lanka will now finish either second or third along with New Zealand, so they may well again indulge in another exercise of testing out players who have not yet had a match in the Caribbean mega event.

The Lankans will however , be wary of taking the game too lightly as India did so against Bangladesh and paid a heavy price. Following on the footsteps of their neighbours, Pakistan too were relaxed against the Irish which ultimately resulted in their first round exit.

Ireland, thus do have it in them to play spoilsport, and the last thing the Sri Lankan management would want is a reverse going into the semi-final.

Either way, the Irish boys play entertaining cricket and the Australia-born Johnston will want more of that. The strapping medium pacer likes to lead from the front and has some notable scalps in the tournament - including Adam Gilchrist - and his celebratory 'chicken dance' has become part of World Cup 2007 folklore.

But the Irish skipper will be keen to do a few more jigs before boarding the plane back home.


Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Marvan Atapattu, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Chamara Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Malinga Bandara. Coach: Dav Whatmore.

Ireland: Trent Johnston (capt), Andrew White, Kyle McCallan, Niall O'Brien (wk), William Porterfield, Dave Langford-Smith, Andre Botha, Eoin Morgan, Jeremy Bray, Kevin O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, John Mooney, Peter Gillespie, Paul Mooney, Kenneth Carroll. Coach: Andrew Birrell.

Umpires: Mark Benson (Eng), Billy Doctrove (WI) and third umpire : Daryl Harper (Aus).

Match Referee: Chris Broad (Eng).


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