By Srian Obeyesekere
Opening batsman, Dimuth Karunaratne flayed a run a ball Player of the Match 103 to notch his maiden ODI century in Sri Lanka making it to the Super Six of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup by trouncing Ireland by 133 runs with 17 overs to spare at the Queens Sports Club at Bulawaya on Sunday.
The Lankan thrust also centered around Sadeera Samarawickrama’s scintillating knock of 82 off 86, and leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga’s 5 for 79 in demolishing Ireland for 192 in 33 overs for his third successive 5-wicket haul.
The 35-year Karunaratne, who lost the ODI captaincy a good two years ago, indeed capped his return to the fold in style scoring his maiden ODI ton in his 30th appearance following rousing knocks of 51 and 61 in the two previous games against the UAE and Oman respectively in raising his stocks in a hitherto unflattering one-day career record where his only conspicuous innings was 97 against Australia in the 2019 world cup. That he took it to the zenith of the three figure mark filled with 8 boundaries in decimating Ireland did signify a remarkable comeback in a swashbuckling tempo that has plugged and added new muscle to a once shaky batting line up.
Meanwhile, the 27-year old Sadeera Samarawickrama also proved to be the other lending force to beefing up the top order in plugging the No.4 slot by his on song run canter following the 73 against Oman. He once again proved to be the lynchpin in coming to the fore in putting on 168 for the third wicket with Karunaratne after Sri Lanka lost two wickets in two balls that of Pathum Nissanka for 20 and Kusal Mendis for a first ball duck to Barry McCarthy. His innings comprised 4 boundaries in a strike rotating run. Charith Asalanka contributed 38 off 30 hitting 2 boundaries and a six as Sri Lanka reached 281 for 5 before losing the final six wickets for 44 with skipper Dasun Shanaka falling for 5 and Wanindu Hasaranga for 4, but by that stage the Lankans were already insulated in the box seat by the early spade work. Dhananjaya remained solid unbeaten on 42 off 35 crossing the boundary on four occasions and crashing one over the top.
Hasaranga though returned to the fore with the ball in running through Ireland supported by Maheesh Theekshana 2 for 29 with skipper Dasun Shanaka, Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara claiming a wicket each.
Sri Lanka 325 (49.5 Overs)
(Dimuth Karunaratne 103, Sadeera Samarawickrama 82, Charith Asalanka 38, Dhananjaya de Silva n.o. 42, Mark Adair 4/46,Barry McCarthy 3/56, Gareth Delany 2/52)
Ireland 192 (31 Overs)
(Curtis Campher 39, Harry Tector 33, George Dockrell n.o. 26, Josh Little 20, Gareth Delany19, Andy McBrine 17, Andy Balbirnie12, Wanindu Hasaranga 5/79, Maheesh Theekshana 2/29, Dasun Shanaka 1/21, Kasun Rajitha 1/22, Lahiru Kumara 1/33)