Stirling and Campher centuries drive Ireland to record total against Sri Lanka
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Having retired hurt with severe cramp yesterday evening, Stirling became the second Ireland player after Kevin O’Brien to record centuries in all three international formats, finally dismissed for 103. Campher played a controlled innings with the lower order to reach his first international hundred in the afternoon session.
It was Ireland’s highest-ever Test total, surpassing their previous best of 339 against Pakistan at Malahide in 2018.
Resuming on 319-5, Lorcan Tucker was only able to add two runs to his overnight score of 78, surviving four balls before his stumps were knocked over by an excellent delivery from Vishwa Fernando. The ball cut through between Tucker’s bat and pad, taking out off stump to give Sri Lanka an early breakthrough.
From then on, however, Stirling and Campher dominated proceedings.
Resuming on 74, Stirling wasted no time in allaying any concerns that he was still struggling with injury. He hit an imperious four through the covers off Fernando to get up and running for the day.
Despite a ball change, umpire Kumar Dharamsena unable to get the still relatively new ball through the ring, the runs continued to flow. By drinks both batters were nearing milestones, Campher three runs short of fifty and Stirling on 96. Campher reached his first, walloping a length ball over cow corner to bring up his half-century.
Not wanting to be outdone, Stirling also cleared the boundary to reach his landmark. Having survived a three-ball wobble where he was beaten by consecutive deliveries from Asitha Fernando, a maximum over cover-point gave him his century. He is the third Ireland Test centurion, joining Tucker and Kevin O’Brien.
But, just two overs later, he was lured into a hook shot which fell straight into Dhananjaya da Silva’s hands on the fine leg boundary, bringing to an end a brilliant innings.
From here, Campher took over the reins, playing an innings of great maturity with the lower order. Joined at the crease by Andy McBrine, he pushed on after lunch as Ireland went past 400 for the first time in Test cricket.
A boundary after drinks took him to within two runs of three figures, with a single off the final ball of the same over leaving him on 99. Whatever nerves he may have been feeling didn’t show as he carved a four through square leg and roared in celebration of a special achievement. At just 24, he was the latest addition to the list of Ireland Test centurions which has quadrupled in this month alone.
Like Stirling, however, he couldn’t go on to make a significant post-century contribution. He was out for 111 to a ripping delivery from Prabath Jayasuriya, taken by a leaping de Silva at slip.
McBrine having been dismissed shortly before Campher and with two tailenders at the crease, Ireland shunned the declaration to pile on as many runs as possible on a pitch looking flatter by the session. By the time the final wicket fell - Matthew Humphrey’s for seven - Ireland had reached tantalizingly close to 500. Humphrey’s wicket also gave Jayasuriya a five-for in consolation for two days toiling in the field, finishing with figures of 5-174.
With a session left to bat in the day, Dimuth Karunaratne and Nishan Madushka set about their work relatively untroubled by the Ireland bowlers. They scored quickly, passing the fifty partnership in the 11th over of the innings before finishing the day closing in on 100.
The covers were brought on with around ten overs left in the day’s play as rain swept quickly across the ground curtailing Ireland’s day to remember. They lead by 411 runs going into day three.
Sri Lanka v Ireland, Second Test match, Day Two, Galle International Stadium, Galle, 25 April 2023
Ireland 492 (145.3 overs; Curtis Campher 111, Paul Stirling 103; Prabath Jayasuriya 5-174)
Sri Lanka 81-0 (Nishan Madushka 41, Dimuth Karunaratne 39)