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Fernando fireworks and final five overs sink Ireland Wolves in Colombo
As the Sri Lankan senior team were falling to a heavy defeat to Australia, Sri Lanka A's Avishka Fernando put forward his credentials for higher honours as he struck a second century in four innings, as his side completed a 202-run victory over Ireland Wolves at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Sri Lanka.
After winning the toss, the home side batted first and set about building a big total. Fernando's innings of 139 runs from 118 balls included 10 fours and seven sixes – he has now hit 411 runs at an average of 102.75 in the last four matches against the Wolves.
The Ireland Wolves spin attack led a middle-overs mission to restrict the scoring rate, led by Simi Singh (2-39) and James Cameron-Dow (1-40) bowling tightly during their full complement of 10 overs each.
With Sri Lanka A at 251-6 with 10 overs to go, Angelo Perera (56* from 34 balls) and Kamindu Mendis (50* from 32 balls) smashed their way to a 102-run unbroken partnership, with the home side finishing on 353-6 after 50 overs.
The Ireland Wolves response suffered from the loss of regular wickets, and despite six batters getting into double figures, no one could capitalise today and the visitors were dismissed for 151 in the 31st over.
Speaking after the game, Ireland Wolves Head Coach Pete Johnston said:
"We had a goal of building more pressure in the first 10 overs with the ball and not letting them settle into a rhythm. I thought the guys who bowled in those overs did an excellent job of that and Harry [Tector] was smart rotating the bowlers in shorter spells which also worked well. They then targeted us for the next period of 10 overs, but we pulled it back with Simi Singh and James Cameron-Dow doing especially well. It was really only the last five overs where they got away again."
"While we have caught pretty well this trip, we missed a half-chance going into the last 10 which could have put the brakes on them and broken the partnership between Mendis and Perera. We took wickets again in the middle overs which was another positive."
"The challenge for our final game will be around how to bring that consistency every day and how to go about getting every ounce out of our game when maybe we aren't feeling 100% or if we are coming out the wrong side of results. We are up against some very experienced Sri Lankan's in tough conditions and I can't praise the effort of the squad and staff enough."
Asked about his spinners, Johnston said:
"It was great to see Simi back to doing what he does best, he executes extremely well and is a clever bowler. Jimmy [Cameron-Dow] has been outstanding this trip and adapted to executing in different conditions, match situations and to different styles of batters. In a nutshell that is what good bowling is about."
"JJ Garth is learning all the time and has bowled some good spells. There are plenty of encouraging signs and even after the game today he spent time speaking with their leggie Jeeven Mendis trying to tap into his knowledge and experience. While still only 18, there is no doubt he has the potential to be an excellent all-rounder for Ireland."
Asked about his batting unit, Johnston said:
"All the batters have definitely made huge progress this trip, that's what makes today so very disappointing. They have put in some serious work in and out of the nets and have relished working with Ed Joyce and sharing knowledge with one another. It's great that we have seen two centuries and some very big partnerships over the course of the tour."
"Whether it was fatigue from the heat and all the work we have put in so far, who knows why but we let ourselves down with the bat today, that's for sure. Scores of 350 are what we need to be able to chase down in international cricket away from home - we almost did that in game one, and I would have expected us to be far more resilient and value our wickets better to give ourselves a fighting chance today on a good pitch."
SCORECARD IN BRIEF
Sri Lanka A v Ireland Wolves, 50-over match, 26 January 2019, Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo
Sri Lanka A 353-6 (50 overs; W Fernando 139, A Perera 56*, K Mendis 50*; S Singh 2-39)
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