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Match Report
Derek Scott

This was the 300th International Match played by Ireland.

Sri Lanka came to England seeking Test Match status. They won the Associate ICC World Cup and beat India in the Senior World Cup. They then started to tour and beat Oxford University by an innings. Against Kent they scored a lot of runs but could not force the win. At Eglinton they did not field their best team but their bowling did not look up to Test Status.

Ireland were unchanged from the Surrey match. Rain destroyed the match as three hours were lost on both the first and second days. The wicket was covered whenever rain fell. The pitch was damp when Ireland won the toss and batted, the start being delayed some 75 minutes It was soon evident that the pitch was a slow lifter. In Gunatillaka's second over he made one lift to Short's glove (he was not playing a shot) to be caught at slip, of whom at this period there were six. After 26 minutes rain stopped play with a total of 12-1. Play resumed at 3:34 PM. At 14 both batsmen were out. O'Brien nibbled Gunatillaka to first slip and Reith made an awful hash of a pull off DLS de Silva and lobbed the ball to short leg. Anderson came in and so began one of his most brilliant innings. Faced with a score of 14-3, a damp pitch and hostile bowling he never faltered. After a very brief reconnaissance he hit de Silva for seven in one over. Young Pasqual came on for de Silva at 25. In two overs Anderson hit him for 21 (five fours) piercing the close set field easily. A short rain break, two more overs and then tea was taken at 57-3, Anderson 38 off 38 deliveries and Johnston, rightly defending dourly, 2. In the last over before tea Anderson mishooked Gunatillaka and gave first slip a most difficult chance running away towards third man - it was to be his only blemish.

There was no break in the 81 minutes after tea. Anderson went on in brilliant fashion. For a while he got little strike but when he did he raced to 50 with his 10th boundary and 70 minutes Now Anderson got more strike and off Jeganathan and A da Silva he soon reached 70 with his 14th four. The 100 partnership came in 102 minutes, of which Johnston had scored 22. By the close of day one it was 135-3, Anderson 83, Johnston 30. 78 had come in the 81 minutes session. After 14-3 it was a great recovery due to Anderson's brilliance.

The second day also lost over three hours of its play due to rain. There was 20 minutes play at the start and the score rose to 143. Then there was 45 minutes play between 2:30 PM and 3:15 PM. Johnston stayed until Anderson reached his century with two successive fours off Gunatillaka. The score was 158 and it was his 18th four that brought his hundred up. Johnston was out at once for 34, hooking a lifter from Gunatillaka which may have hit his shoulder. The partnership was 149 in 169 minutes Nine runs later, with the total on 172, Anderson nibbled at DLS de Silva and was caught at the wicket. His 110 occupied 184 minutes with 20 boundaries. Ireland declared when rain ended play at 3:15 PM. Anderson's century was his sixth and his first on Irish soil. He faced only 163 balls.

At 4:55 PM Sri Lanka started and had a full session in sunshine until 7:00 PM. They scored 107-4 in 36 overs. Jayasinghe was in great form. He took nine off Corlett's third over and 16 (four boundaries) off Elder's fifth over when the opening bowlers changed ends. After 10 overs the score was 50, of which Jayasinghe was 37. Monteith came on and at 58 Jayasinghe hoisted him to backward cover where Anderson took a good catch. 58-1-41. Madugalle did not last long before driving Corlett on the up to Anderson at cover. 73-2-5. Two runs later Corlett bowled Jayasekera via his pad - these two coming in the same over. At 85 Jeganathan left a large gap and Monteith bowled him. At 85-4 Ireland had done well. 17-year-old Pasqual (20) and Mendis (8) took Sri Lanka to 107-4 by close of play on day two.

The third day was a full day's play. Sri Lanka went for an innings win batting until 25 minutes after lunch when they had a lead of 102. With comfort Ireland played out a draw with their score reaching 155-2. Mendis was undoubtedly out at once, caught by Colhoun off Corlett but was given not out. Halliday and Monteith then bowled a long spell together. Both batsmen played well and with many good shots the score mounted rapidly. Mendis had a runner but it did not inhibit his strokeplay. 72 came in the first hour. Pasqual reached 50 first to be followed by Mendis a few overs later. When 54 Pasqual was dropped by Elder off Halliday at deep square leg with the score on 186. Corlett returned for Halliday at 207, but runs now came at a merry pace, Corlett conceding 12 in one over. At 233 Elder caught Pasqual at deep mid-on off Monteith but it was a no-ball which no one heard! Finally, at 237, Mendis misdrove Corlett and was caught at midwicket. 237-5-82. The stand put on 152 in 132 minutes Dias joined Pasqual and the two hours to lunch realized 152 runs. The score was now 262-5, Pasqual 85, Dias 14. The wicket was now dry and friendly.

After lunch another 26 were added for the loss of Dias. When the 17-year-old Pasqual reached 100, Sri Lanka declared. His 101 occupied 195 minutes with 11 boundaries. He faced 186 deliveries and it was a very good performance by one so young. Ireland bowled 79 overs so the rate was 3.6 runs per over. Corlett (26) and Monteith (32) bowled 58 of these.

Ireland had 144 minutes left, plus a minimum 20 overs, to bat. After 10 of the statutory 20 overs the game was given up as a draw. Short and Reith made a good start and reached 46 in the 17th over. A da Silva had just come on with the left arm spinners and he bowled Reith in his second over. 46-1-27. At tea the score was 63-1, Short 21, O'Brien 6. A da Silva bowled until the last over with various others tried at the other end. At 96, O'Brien (16) was dropped at first slip off da Silva. Then Short reached 51 out of 112. At 106, O'Brien (21) had another life off A da Silva being dropped at short square leg. When the last 20 overs started the score was 113-1. Then Short was LBW to A da Silva in the first of the 20 overs. 117-2-56. It was a good chanceless innings of 146 minutes, facing 120 deliveries. O'Brien had another life but was 45 not out and Anderson 12 when the game was called off. 51 overs had been bowled. The result was very satisfactory for Ireland.

Limavady CC hosted a meal for Sri Lanka on the evening of their arrival; BP Limited entertained both teams on the first night of the match in the Eglinton Pavilion; the Sports Council of Northern Ireland had a superb buffet at Michael Nicholson's house on the second evening. The crowd was reasonable taking the weather into account. British Airways flew the visitors in free of charge. The Pascal-Mendis fifth wicket stand of 152 was a new record against Ireland beating by five runs the PE Richardson - GE Dews stand for Worcestershire in College Park in 1958.

Eglinton