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T20 World Cup: Batters could have done better against Sri Lankan spinners, says Ireland captain Balbirnie

Hobart, Oct 23 (IANS) Ireland had caused a sensation by ousting West Indies from the Men’s T20 World Cup but found the going tough in the Super 12 stage as they slumped to a nine-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka here on Sunday.

Ireland Skipper Andrew Balbirnie said his batters found the “sticky” wicket and the Sri Lankan spinners difficult to handle and thus failed to put up a big total.

Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana took two wickets each in a brilliant bowling performance as Sri Lanka restricted Ireland to a paltry 128/8 in 20 overs. In response, opener Kusal Mendis smashed an unbeaten 68, his second consecutive fifty on the trot, as Sri Lanka secured a clinical nine-wicket win.

Though Ireland had outplayed West Indies at the same venue, they found the pitch a bit more ‘sticky’ than on Friday and thus could not post a competitive total. Balbirnie agreed that the deck was different from the one they played West Indies on.

“…I think it was just a touch stickier than the other day. That was the kind of feedback we got from the guys that spent a bit of time out there. I actually thought we were playing on the wickets we used at the start of last week. That changed,” Andrew Balbirnie said.

“Yeah, just kind of disappointing. We, obviously, set out to get a good total, which I don’t think we did. A couple of guys played some good knocks, but just nothing really around that to get us any sort of a total, which is disappointing.”

Though the pitch did not produce a massive turn, it was enough for the Sri Lanka spinners to exploit and tie up the Ireland batters.

“We knew their spinners will be a big threat. I think today, again, the guys who spent time in the middle probably have more, but I think it wasn’t a massive turn, but just enough to kind of attack us with.

“Yeah, I think you get to this stage of any competition, you’re going to be playing world-class spinners, seam bowlers, batters. That’s just the way it is. You have to try to catch up and be on par with those sorts of performances as much as possible,” Balbirnie said.

He said playing Sri Lanka in the Super 12 after the first-round clashes, was not a significant step up in quality.

“I don’t think so. I think we played quality teams last week in a more pressurized environment, but certainly, they’re a good team. And they had a tough start last week, but then built momentum into this week. So they, obviously, had started winning last week and have taken that into this week.

“When we play good cricket we’re on par with anyone, but it’s that consistency and backing performances up. We didn’t do that today from Friday, and we’ll have to start to kick it off on Wednesday,” he added.

He gave credit to the Sri Lankan spinners for their good show but said his batters could have done better against them.

“You have to give them credit. They’re pretty impressive figures, but we’ve played a lot of cricket against good spinners, so we should have maybe played better.

“I don’t want to criticize because we’ve got quality players in our top seven, and they’ve all contributed now pretty much to this tournament, and they will continue to contribute by playing their strengths. And I certainly won’t be telling them not to play certain shots and stuff,” he added.

–IANS

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