Test to have exciting fifth day as Ireland remain resolute

On day four in Galle, Ireland's bowlers struggled to take wickets as Sri Lanka declared at 704-3, led by Kusal Mendis' 245, before the hosts took two early wickets to help set up an exciting fifth day

(Cricket news) At the start of the day, Sri Lanka was 357-1 and was 135 runs behind Ireland. Despite Sri Lanka’s hitters making few and infrequent errors in the morning session’s heat conditions, Ireland’s bowlers failed to make a breakthrough.

The most likely route to a wicket occasionally appeared to be an overhead sweep, but on the rare occasion when the shot was mishit, the ball landed safely.

With 10 fours and his eighth six, Kusal Mendis passed 150 from 193 balls and brought up the milestone. After scoring his first Test century on day three, Nishan Madushka hit 200 off 323 balls shortly before lunch.

Following the breakthrough, Andy McBrine successfully ended the 268 run alliance. When McBrine was bowling around the wicket to the right-handed Madushka, he was able to slap the pads with one ball that, upon review by Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie, was determined to be pitched on leg stump. The opening batsman for Sri Lanka scored 205 runs off 339 balls, including 22 fours and a six.

The wicket caused the batters to become more composed as they tried to advance and stop more wickets from falling. Both batsmen started to take more chances and go over the top as the hosts needed some quick runs to buy themselves some time to have a chance of forcing a decision. Before launching a lofted shot down the ground for four off Curtis Campher’s bowling, Angelo Mathews had only scored 12 runs from his first 31 balls.

Kusal increased his aggression in Campher’s subsequent over, smashing three fours and a six in the over. The 28-year-old smashed Kumar Sangakkara’s record for the most sixes in an innings for Sri Lanka with that maximum, which was the ninth of his innings, but he wasn’t content to stop there.

Kusal had smashed 11 sixes by the time Graham Hume took him out, which is tied for second-most in a Test inning for a batsman. Hume was dismissed, becoming Matthew Humphreys’ first Test wicket thanks to a fine catch on the far on boundary. Kusal scored 245 runs from 291 balls to finish.

Dinesh Chandimal entered the game with the intention of keeping the hosts’ momentum going, but he injured his shoulder while diving to make a play, ending his innings early.

With the score at 704-3 and a 212-run first-inning lead, Sri Lanka ultimately declared their innings after Mathews reached his century. Six fours and four sixes were part of Mathews’ 100*, which came off of 114 balls.

With only 22 overs remaining in the day, Ireland lost a wicket early when Ramesh Mendis’ off-spin caused the ball to bounce and turn and ricochet off James McCollum’s gloves and onto his stumps as the opener attempted to defend.

PJ Moor attempted to emulate Sri Lanka’s batters by attacking the bowlers, smashing a six off each of R Mendis and Prabath Jayasuriya’s deliveries, but the latter came back to dismiss the Ireland No. 3 for 19.

Balbirnie and Harry Tector comfortably completed the day’s play without incident, leaving the guests on 54-2 and still losing by 158 runs.

Ireland 492 (145.3 overs; Curtis Campher 111, Paul Stirling 103; Prabath Jayasuriya 5-174)

Sri Lanka 704-3 (151 overs; Kusal Mendis 245, Nishan Madushka 205, Dimuth Karunaratne 115; Graham Hume 1-87)

Ireland 54-2 (22 overs; PJ Moor 19; Prabath Jayasuriya 1-28)

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