Balbirnie helps Ireland bounce back in Sri Lanka Test

Ireland's Lorcan Tucker was unbeaten on 78 and Curtis Campher was not out 27 at stumps



Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie. — AFP
Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie. — AFP

By AFP

Published: Mon 24 Apr 2023, 8:11 PM

A career-best 95 by Andy Balbirnie helped Ireland reach a strong 319 for four at stumps on day one of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Monday.

In a strong comeback after a heavy innings defeat in the first Test, at the close of play Ireland's Lorcan Tucker was unbeaten on 78 and Curtis Campher was not out 27.

Having made three changes, Ireland began nervously as Peter Moor departed for five and Sri Lanka's first Test hero Prabath Jayasuriya removed James McCollum for 10.

But captain Balbirnie held firm in hot and humid conditions, grinding out a 115-run partnership with the returning Paul Stirling after Harry Tector fell to Jayasuriya for 18.

It was the highest partnership for Ireland in its brief Test history -- this is only their sixth match -- surpassing a 114-run stand from their inaugural Test in 2018.

But Balbirnie missed out on the chance to become only the third Irishman to score a Test century, caught after a wild paddle sweep off Kusal Mendis for 95, beating his previous best of 82.

Stirling, who had missed the first Test, showed his experience punishing loose balls as he reached his maiden half-century in Test cricket off 64 balls.

But his promising knock was cut short when he had to retire hurt with cramps. His 74 came off 133 balls with six fours and three sixes.


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