The Ireland Wolves have drawn a two-day warm-up match against the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI at the Katunayake Cricket Ground, with Head Coach Pete Johnston commending his squad during its first encounter with subcontinent conditions.
“The last few days have been a quick turnaround for us, but we’ve had three good days of practice,” said Johnston. “First day we had a good practice session and then we went straight into this two-day practice match. We used this game to get time on the guys feet – to get them used to the conditions and the heat. The bowlers got their loads up today, which is great, and we’ve batted a couple of times in match situations as well, so it’s been a really good few days.”
The match, played a day earlier than originally planned due to issues relating to venue availability, saw the Wolves squad take the field less than 36 hours after arriving in Sri Lanka. After winning the toss, Wolves Captain Harry Tector chose to bat first.
Despite a number of starts made by the top order, only wicketkeeper-batsman Lorcan Tucker settled in for a lengthy innings, making 47 from 119 balls.
“Lorcan batted really well, particularly against the spinners,” said Johnston. “He was strong in his defensive shots, he lined everything up well, but equally he used his feet well and swept well too. He faced a lot of balls and spent a lot of time out there, and looked very composed, very organised. The best thing was that he had a game plan for everything they threw at him.”
Captain Tector made a breezy 26 from 29 balls, but the Sri Lankan attack proved decisive on their home pitch and bowled the Wolves out for 159 from 53.3 overs.
In response, the Sri Lankan sides openers Sandun Weerakkody (93) and Hashan Dumindu (74) put on 141 runs for the first stand, before eventually declaring their innings on 313-7. For the Wolves, bowling honours went to Harry Tector (2-58) and JJ Garth (2-72), with at one stage Tector claiming two wickets in three balls to get the Wolves back into the contest after the opening partnership. Coaches today also made the decision to hold Craig Young back from bowling as a precaution, as he has a small niggle and they are looking for him to be fully fit for the next match.
With a 154-run deficit, the Wolves batted out their final 24 overs finishing 60-4, with opener James McCollum hitting 31 runs in a positive innings at the top which included four boundaries.
At the conclusion of the match, Johnston put the game into context and outlined the next few days leading up to the first four-day match against Sri Lanka A:
“It was a good game for us. The opposition had a lot of good players – they were quite a strong side. For our lads it’s been good to experience tough conditions early on and tough opposition, so we’ll look to bank that experience and now move on to the next match against Sri Lanka A.”
“Tomorrow is a recovery day mainly, but the guys will, individually and in groups, get together to share their experiences from the last couple of days – the conditions and tactics. After that we’ll look at our plans for our bowlers and our batters ahead of the four-day game against Sri Lanka A. If any of the players need a top up session or to work on any small things then we’ll look to do that, but we’ll make the most of our recovery time before we play what is expected to be a tough game against Sri Lanka A starting Saturday.”
The Wolves’ four-day match against Sri Lanka A will be held at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo on Saturday – a ground which recently hosted a Sri Lanka v England Test match.
SCORECARD IN BRIEF
Sri Lanka Board President’s XI v Ireland Wolves, 1-2 January 2019, MCG Katunayake
Ireland Wolves 159 (53.3 overs; L Tucker 47, H Tector 26; P Kaushal 3-28)
SLBP XI 313-7d (68.1 overs; S Weerakkody 93, H Dumindu 74; H Tector 2-58, JJ Garth 2-72)
Ireland Wolves 60-4 (24 overs; J McCollum 31)
A full scorecard is available here: http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1170357/scorecard/1170366/tbc-vs-tbc-tour-match-