James McCollum on song for Irish Wolves against Sri Lanka A

Ireland's James McCollum
Ireland's James McCollum

Opener James McCollum led the way with his second half-century of the tour as the visitors finished in command after the first day of the Ireland Wolves four-day match at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka.

After Sri Lanka A’s captain Ashan Priyanjan won the toss and put the Wolves into bat first, the visiting side dominated the day’s play and displayed a commitment to not let the home side’s spin-heavy attack dominate, as it had in the first match of the series.

McCollum, who left the field in the last match with suspected concussion after taking a blow to the head while fielding, bounced back with a sprightly innings of 72 from 105 balls.

His innings included seven boundaries, but demonstrated as much the importance of turning over the strike and not letting the opposition bowlers settle into a rhythm.

Playing in his eighth Wolves match, McCollum averages 50.38 across all formats, and was recently included for the first time in the central contracts list for the Ireland senior men’s squad.

After losing opening partner James Shannon early (13), McCollum and 20-year old Stephen Doheny steadied the ship with a 110-run partnership.

Doheny was not overshadowed by his partner, and his innings of 58 from 103 balls included six fours and a six.

His innings showed resilience to recover from his early tour disappointments , but more importantly to convert a start into a half-century, which only McCollum succeeded in achieving in the first match of the series.

In the middle session the loss of three relatively quick wickets saw the Wolves go from 132-1 to 158-4 in the space of eight overs.

However with the visitors were determined not to let their solid start go to waste and wicketkeeper batsman Lorcan Tucker (61*) and the left-handed Neil Rock (57*) put on an unbroken 128-run stand which saw the Wolves close the day at 286-4.

Sadly bad light ending play around 30 minutes early and the teams will have to start again today.

After play, Stephen Doheny said: “It was tricky in the morning – myself and James spoke about hanging in while it was seaming around. We obviously got through it and as the day went on it became much easier to bat. These conditions here are more seamer-friendly [than Colombo], there was a green top this morning, so the ball was doing things earlier on, so it was more difficult than it was in Colombo.”

Neil Rock said:“We obviously lost a few quick wickets after lunch, but Stephen and James had set it up very nicely for myself and Lorcan to get going again in the afternoon session and evening session. Thankfully we got through to the end of play, and we’ll come back tomorrow and face the new ball.”