Karunaratne ton, Hasaranga five-for knock Ireland

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By Webdesk

Ireland won the toss, striking a double in the ninth over of Sri Lanka’s innings and taking 6 for 44 in their last six overs. But Sri Lanka won the other parts of this game so completely, beating Ireland by 133 runs and bowling them out for 192 after making 325.

This means Sri Lanka will progress to the Super Six stage of the World Cup qualifier along with Scotland and Oman from their group. Sri Lanka takes the points from their big win against Oman, but they have not yet played Scotland in the group stage.

Ireland, meanwhile, has been eliminated from the ODI World Cup. They have one more game to play, against UAE, but both teams are already excluded.

For Sri Lanka, Wanindu Hasaranga took his third five-wicket haul in as many matches, while Dimuth Karunaratne netted his first ODI hundred, having made four successive half-centuries in the run-up.

Both players’ places in Sri Lanka’s top XI were not secure. Although Hasaranga is a T20I star, he hadn’t quite translated that into ODI glory. Karunaratne, meanwhile, had been Sri Lanka’s most consistent Test batsman for the past five years, but failed to excel at white-ball cricket.

This recent half-century run and now this run-a-ball 103 will make Karunaratne a more serious World Cup contender, while Hasaranga’s 5 for 79 puts him on 16 wickets in the tournament – easily the top wicket taker.

Karunaratne’s contribution was arguably more instrumental to the win. After Barry McCarthy took two wickets in two balls in the ninth over, Karunaratne and Sadeera Samarawickrama built a stand of 168 runs. This partnership – in which the batters picked up largely risk-free singles and deuces and threw themselves into the loose pitches, especially those with short pitches – secured Sri Lanka’s victory. Samarawickrama was dropped on 66 at the halfway mark and he went on to make 82 off 86 balls.

Karunaratne and Samarawickrama came together in the ninth over; when they were separated in the 36th, with 216 on the board, a score of over 300 seemed inevitable. Their attack, which has taken less than 200 setbacks so far in the tournament, will enter the Super Six stage as arguably the best on show.

Even if it had been too little too late – that’s how thoroughly Karunaratne and Samarawickrama dominated the middle overs – Ireland’s late attack with the ball made a dent in Sri Lanka. They could have made 20 more, Dasun Shanaka said in the post-innings interview, but the lower order was rejected cheaply.

However, the best order had dragged Sri Lanka through again and the bowling was dominant enough to make short work of the pursuit in Ireland. Ireland were 57 for 3 in the 11th over, 116 for 6 in the 20th, and essentially never had the measure of the chase.

Apart from Hasaranga’s five, Maheesh Theekshana got two wickets and Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara and Shanaka got one each. Curtis Campher scored highest for Ireland with 39.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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