Mendis shines as Sri Lanka prove too strong for Ireland

DUBLIN, May 6, 2014 (AFP) – Ajantha Mendis starred with both bat and ball as Sri Lanka enjoyed a comfortable start to their tour of the British Isles with a 79-run win over Ireland in the first one-day international in Dublin on Tuesday. The Sri Lankans have arrived in Dublin without five of their star players — Kumar Sangakkara, for one, preparing for the upcoming Test series against England by playing in the County Championship for Durham, although he was out for a duck on Tuesday.

In the end they coped without them, although Sri Lanka needed a fine innings from Kulasekara.

His 42 not out came off 34 balls with three fours and two sixes and, crucially, he shared an unbroken ninth wicket stand of 43 in 22 balls with Mendis.

It was a decisive turnaround and the bowlers, even without Lasith Malinga and Rangan Herath, did the rest. Mendis made a useful 18 not out in a total of 219 for eight, where No 8 Nuwan Kulasekara top-scored with an undefeated 42, and the unorthodox spinner then took three wickets for 27 runs.

Once Sri Lanka, who had been struggling at 95 for five, had set Ireland 220 to win on a slow Clontarf pitch, the game was always out of the reach of the leading Associate or non-Test nation.

Despite lo