By Srian Obeyesekere
Paul Stirling and Curtis Campher hit centuries in upping Ireland in the pride of an avalanche score of 492, their highest test score to bask in a tall position on the second day of the second test against Sri Lanka whose reply was swift in 81 for no loss off 18.1 overs at the Galle International Cricket Stadium today. Nishan Madushka was on 41 and the Lankan Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne on 39.
One down in the 2-match series, indeed, it was a truly spirited comeback by Ireland on the back of the 32-year old Stirling and 24-year old Campher anointing themselves in the glorification of centuries and as much the minnow nation to its highest ever score at that level surpassing the previous best of 339 versus Pakistan in 2018. For a country into only it’s early days seventh test match it was a praiseworthy effort by the twosome rising to the magical three figure personal milestone player satisfaction in riding that newness to cricket’s yet most arduous format. If it was more the momentous for the right-handed Stirling who was to brave the heat cramp vagaries of the previous day that stopped him in his strides of induced retirement on 74 to translating it from there to 103 off 181 balls heightened by 4 over the top and 9 across, it was young blood to the fore in full steam for the 24-year old Campher in a 111-run brilliance off 229 runs accentuated by 15 across and 2 over the top. Going to their respective maiden tons from humble beginnings Paul Stirling whose previous highest was 36 from only three appearances, and Campher in only his third appearance riding a highest of just 34.
The Stirling-Campher sixth-wicket value was worth 64 runs in taking the score to 385 when the former was taken out by Prabath Jayasuriya who had him caught by Dinesh Chandimal after the pair had come together at the fall of the fifth wicket when the overnight Lorcan Tucker was bowled by Vishwa Fernando off the fourth delivery of the day for 80 adding just two to his overnight score. The fast bowling allrounder Campher continued to throw his lower order value with the bat having taken strike at No. 7 in stringing together 89 for the seventh wicket with Andrew McBrine who scored 35 off 59 hitting 3 boundaries and a six. McBrine was seventh out caught by substitute fielder M. Hemantha giving Vishwa Fernando his second wicket – Ireland 474 for 7.
Prabath Jayasuriya continued to stamp his name in the bowling honours of his sixth 5-wicket haul at a cost of 174. runs sending down a marathon 58.3 overs in accounting for the next three wickets including that of Campher edging a delivery to Dhananjaya de Silva at slips. Sri Lanka made a steady start with both Nishan Madushka and Karunaratne quick to punish the Irish attack for six boundaries apiece in fronting Ireland’s mammoth 492. Madushka had faced 64 deliveries for his 41 and Karunaratne 45 for his 39.
CHIEF SCORES: Ireland 492 (145.3 Overs) (Curtis Campher 111, Paul Stirling 103, Lorcan Tucker 80, Andrew McBrine 35, Prabath Jayasuriya 5/174, Asitha Fernando 2/78, Vishwa Fernando 2/92, Ramesh Mendis 1/108).Sri Lanka 81/0 (Nishan Madushka n.o. 41, Dimuth Karunaratne n o. 39)