At 8/3, Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualification was dwindling, it showed their vulnerability in front of the world stage against the swinging ball. When Wanindu Hasaranga walked in at No.5, there was huge pressure on the right-hander to construct the innings alongside the opener Pathum Nissanka.
Despite being under tremendous pressure, the duo stitched an invaluable partnership together against Ireland, which later went on to become match-winning. Hasaranaga-Nissanka added 123 runs for the fourth wicket, taking Sri Lanka from 8/3 to finish at 171/7. In the post-match presentation, skipper Dasun Shanaka revealed that playing Hasaranga at No.5 was a plan for the Islanders.
"Of course it was a concern at 8 for 3, but they put on an awesome partnership. Hasaranga at 5 is a plan coming in at the World Cup and it worked well for us. Great luxury to have fast bowlers in the side, great credit goes to both of them and the coaches for the efforts in the nets. Have to look at top-order batting, but other areas are okay, though fielding has been poor as well,” Shanaka revealed at the post-match presentation.
Hasaranga, on the other hand, admitted that his plan was simple: to rotate the first few deliveries before accelerating in the innings.
"When I went in I was under pressure, but I rotated the first few balls, then I accelerated. I am a batting allrounder. Tired, with this heat," Hasaranga said.
For Ireland, the week which started on the most optimistic of note, with a win over Netherlands had quickly turned into a horror show, after their 70-run loss against Sri Lanka. Skipper Andrew Balbirnie insisted that they are optimistic about their chances of qualification.
The skipper also heaped praises on Josh Little, who picked up four wickets conceding just 23 runs with the ball.
"Started the week well with a good performance against the Dutch... if we'd lost that game we'd have been playing catch up, but a big game on Friday now, all to play for. Josh Little is a real find for us, had them in trouble, but they took it away from us in the middle though we clawed it back well,” Balbirnie stated.
“He has new ball skills to attack the stumps, hopefully he can continue that on Friday and into next week. Those are the games you want to play, the big knock-outs. It's a big deal for us as players, and for friends and families. Hopefully a lot of people tune in."