Giant-killers Ireland who are fresh from knocking two-time world champions West Indies out of this edition of the World Cup will be eager to get their Super 12 stage off to a good start against the reigning Asian champions Sri Lanka.
Both Ireland and Sri Lanka overcame rocky starts to their T20 World Cup 2022 Qualifying Stage to come through their respective groups and will now face-off in their Super 12 opener at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart on Sunday, October 23.
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Ireland lost their first match in the qualifiers against Zimbabwe but mounted an impressive comeback to beat Scotland by 6 wickets in their second game to give themselves a chance of qualifying. They then grabbed their opportunity with both hands as they knocked out two-time champions West Indies, courtesy a top team performance.
Gareth Delany finished with 3/16 as Ireland restricted the Windies to just 146/5 despite an unbeaten half-century from Brandon King. The Irish then made light work of that target as openers Paul Stirling (66*) and Andy Balbirnie (37) got off to a flyer before Lorcan Tucker (45*) helped seal a dominant 9-wicket victory.
Sri Lanka too suffered a rocky start to the qualifiers, losing to Namibia by 55 runs. The recently-crowned Asian Champions bounced back with a thumping 79-run win against UAE to give their Net Run Rate a boost.
Kusal Mendis then scored a blistering 79 off just 44 balls in their final match against Netherlands to help Sri Lanka post 162/6. Wanindu Hasaranga then took charge of proceedings with a superb spell of 3/28 to ensure there weren't any hiccups as they sealed a 16-run victory to progress to the Super 12.
Now both sides will be looking to start their Super 12 stage on the right note, especially given the level of competition involved. Any early slip-ups could prove costly as teams battle to finish in the top two of their respective groups and both captains will be keenly aware of that dynamic.
Form Guide (last five matches)
Sri Lanka: W-NR-L-W-W
Sri Lanka vs Ireland Head to Head:
Matches played: 2
Sri Lanka: 2
Pitch Report: The deck at the Bellerive Oval has proved to be a delight to bat on with the batters able to go for their shots and play aggressively. The average 1st innings total at the stadium in T20Is is 176, while the average 2nd innings score is 152. Hence, the captain winning the toss will be eager to put a score on the board first.
Weather Update: The temperature at Hobart on Sunday is expected to be between 9 to 12 degrees celsius. There are light showers expected in the region which means we could be in for a rain-interrupted game.
SL Probable XI: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (WK), Dhananjaya de Silva, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka (C), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana and Binura Fernando
IRE Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie (C), Lorcan Tucker (WK), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Simi Singh, Barry McCarthy and Joshua Little.
Top Fantasy Picks:
Wicketkeeper – Kusal Mendis
Batters – Parthum Nissnaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie
All-rounders – Dasun Shanaka, Curtis Campher
Bowlers – Gareth Delany, Lahiru Kumara, Mark Adair, Wanindu Hasaranga
Betting Odds (bet 365)
Sri Lanka: 1/3
Where to watch: The match begins at 9.30 AM IST. In India, the match will be broadcast live on the Star Sports Network. Online viewers can follow the live action via Disney+Hotstar.