By Srian Obeyesekere
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne led from the front stroking 179 and and Kusal Mendis. 143 as Lanka ground Ireland’s bowlers to the dust amassing 381 for 4 on the opening day of the historic first test versus Ireland having taken first lease on winning the toss at the Galle International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. Karunaratne’s 15th test century off 285 balls contained 15 boundaries, and Mendis’ 8th ton 18 boundaries and a six in a second wicket partnership worth 281 off 59.1 overs after the duo had come together at the fall of the first wicket that of Nishan Madushka (29) with the score on 64.
Madushka, promoted to open the innings in his second test appearance, played a supportive role to see Sri Lanka past the fifty mark in a watchful 49-ball stay that was undone when the left-hander mistimed trying to force the pace edging Curtis Campher to wicket-keeper Lorcan Tuckner.
In a game of historical significance being the first ever test match between the two countries, the 34-year old Karunaratne and 28-year old Mendis sweet savaged the Irish attack on a docile track in drumming up the tempo to Sri Lanka driving a box seat stranglehold over the minnows to test cricket playing only their fifth game since gaining full membership in 2017. Badly needing to regain lost prestige in the World Test Championship following the away 2-0 defeat to New Zealand that dented the Lankans hopes of making it to the final, in notable changes in wicket-keeper batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama and young all-rounder Ramesh Mendis in the fold, the batting runs deep with Dinesh Chandimal out there on 18 and night watchman Prabath Jayasuriya on 12 with Dhananjaya de Silva too linking up.
Karunaratne was last out with the total 373 eleven overs after Mendis who was trapped leg before wicket by George Dockrell when the score was 345. The Lankan skipper was caught behind by Tuckner off Mark Adair as Ireland had their best moments in the fade to stumps grabbing three wickets in the space of 28 runs in 11 overs including the wicket of Angelo Matthews for a duck caught behind by Tuckner off Ben While. But it remained fleeting respite for Ireland as the Chandimal-Jayasuriya defiance to stumps spelled out the daunting prospect the visitors would face into the second day against the heavy odds they face.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 386/4 (88 Overs) (Dimuth Karunaratne 179, Kusal Mendis 143, Dinesh Chandimal n.o. 18, Prabath Jayasuriya n.o. 12, Curtis Compher 1/44, Mark Adair 1/61, George Dockrell 1/65, Ben White 1/86)