Ireland Wolves opener James McCollum led the way with his second half-century of the tour, while Lorcan Tucker and Neil Rock ensured the visitors finished in command after the first day of the Ireland Wolves v Sri Lanka four-day match at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka.
After Sri Lanka A’s captain Ashan Priyanjan won the toss and put the Wolves into bat first, the visiting side dominated the day’s play and displayed a commitment to not let the home side’s spin-heavy attack dominate, as it had in the first match of the series.
23-year old Northern Knights opener McCollum, who left the field in the last match with suspected concussion after taking a blow to the head while fielding, bounced back with a sprightly innings of 72 from 105 balls. His innings included seven boundaries, but demonstrated as much the importance of turning over the strike and not letting the opposition bowlers settle into a rhythm. Playing in his eighth Wolves match, McCollum averages 50.38 across all formats, and was recently included for the first time in the central contracts list for the Ireland senior men’s squad.
After losing opening partner James Shannon early (13), McCollum and 20-year old Stephen Doheny steadied the ship with a 110-run partnership. Doheny was not overshadowed by his partner, and his innings of 58 from 103 balls included six fours and a six. His innings showed resilience to recover from his early tour disappointments (having made just 26 runs in four innings in Sri Lanka), but more importantly to convert a start into a half-century, which only McCollum succeeded in achieving in the first match of the series.
In the middle session the loss of three relatively quick wickets saw the Wolves go from 132-1 to 158-4 in the space of eight overs, however with the visitors were determined not to let their solid start go to waste and wicketkeeper batsman Lorcan Tucker (61*) and the left-handed Neil Rock (57*) put on an unbroken 128-run stand which saw the Wolves close the day at 286-4, with bad light ending play around 30 minutes early.
After play, Neil Rock said:
“We obviously lost a few quick wickets after lunch, but Stephen and James had set it up very nicely for myself and Lorcan to get going again in the afternoon session and evening session. Thankfully we got through to the end of play, and we’ll come back tomorrow and face the new ball.”
SCORECARD IN BRIEF
Sri Lanka A v Ireland Wolves, 13-16 January 2019, Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota
Ireland Wolves 286-4 (82 overs; J McCollum 72, L Tucker 61*, S Doheny 58, N Rock 57*; C Karunaratne 2-54)
Stumps on Day One