It was the bowling unit, especially spin duo of Maheesh Theekshana (2/19) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2/25), who set up the win by restricting Ireland to 128 for 8.
“Really happy with the way we’ve played the game, we set out to do some things and did well. We knew spin would play a major role, we knew they’d like pace, so we kept a lot of spin for the back-end,” Shanaka said at the post-match presentation ceremony here.
Kusal Mendis then complemented the bowlers with a 43-ball 68 as Sri Lanka registered an easy chase to overhaul the target with five overs to spare and make a winning start to the super 12 stage.
“He has been consistent this year (on Kusal Mendis), has played according to the situation most of the times, That’s what he has improved – it is high-class batting. That consistency which Sri Lanka needed for a long time, that gives us a luxury,” Shanaka said.
“Death bowling is our key area and the start is important – we did that really good. Want to continue with that confidence.”
Shanaka’s Ireland counterpart Andrew Balbirnie was left disappointed with the team’s batting effort against the Lankan spinners.
Ireland ✅What a commanding win by Sri Lanka! 🙌Kusal Mendis led the chase with an unbeaten 68.#SLvIRE… https://t.co/8mkr5CbQoA
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) 1666509298000
“We knew they’d be a big threat. There wasn’t a whole lot of spin, but enough to challenge the stumps and bat. We wanted to get 160 or so. We knew they did have a threat of spin on a used wicket, but you have to bat well — be it first or second,” he said.
Harry Tector was the top-scorer for Ireland, scoring 45 off 42 balls with two fours and one six.
“Tector is one of our top players, he’s had an amazing year, he’s an important player in our middle order,” Balbirnie said.
Mendis, who was adjudged player-of-the-match, credited the bowlers for setting up the win and said the idea was to chase down the total in 17 overs.
The Player of the match 💪 @KusalMendis13#SLvIRE #RoaringForGlory https://t.co/biIyoPfuIa
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) 1666511461000
“The bowlers did really well to limit them to a low score and I just played my game,” he said.
“I was just told to play the first 6 overs and then continue, the aim basically was to last 10 overs, but we were chasing a low score.
“We wanted to win within 17 overs, Charith (Asalanka) told me to not put myself under any pressure.”
Sri Lanka will next take on Australia on Tuesday in Perth.