IRELAND will lock horns with world champions for the second time in three months when Sri Lanka visit Dublin next month for two one-day internationals at Clontarf.
After beating the West Indies in Jamaica in February, the Boys in Green will be looking for another famous scalp when they take on the newly-crowned World T20 champions in a 50-over RSA Insurance Series on May 6 and 8 at Clontarf Cricket Club in North Dublin.
And for local fans it will be a fantastic first chance to see some of the superstars of the world game in Lasith Malinga, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene after their stunning win over India in Dhaka yesterday in the ICC World T20 final.
Cricket fans turned out in their droves last summer with superb crowds at the marquee Irish fixtures in 2013. In May, Clontarf was the scene of two epic battles with Pakistan that resulted in a tie and the narrowest of wins for the visitors while Dublin also hosted an RSA Challenge match against England in front of a record-breaking crowd of 10,000 at Malahide on that glorious day in September.
While Clontarf cannot accommodate all the fans who packed into Malahide in September, captain William Porterfield is still expecting large and vocal support when his side take on Sri Lanka.
“The home crowds were simply outstanding last year,” Porterfield said. “There was an incredible atmosphere at both Clontarf and Malahide which made for unforgettable occasions.
“On a personal level it was certainly one of the highlights of my career to score a century in front of a sell-out crowd against England. So I’m hoping we’ll be able to put on another great show for the fans at Clontarf.”
Ireland coach Phil Simmons is relishing the opportunity to pit his wits against the world champions and believes early season conditions could be a great leveller.
“It’s the type of challenge we’re crying out for, ” Simmons said. “These are the sort of games that players love. It’s going to be a brilliant experience to play the best in our own back yard.
“The pitch and overhead conditions at Clontarf in May will be very different to what Sri Lanka are used to and we’ll be looking to make the most of home advantage.
“We’re obviously building up now to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s a great chance for the players to show what they’re capable of over the two games.
“The series has been given an extra edge with Sri Lanka winning the World T20, and there’s that extra motivation to turn them over as we did the West Indies.”
With just over four weeks remaining until the matches start, Cricket Ireland have been encouraged by very strong ticket sales, with fans set for two great days of world class entertainment.
Tickets for the matches are still available viawww.cricketireland.ie
and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance as the second Pakistan fixture sold out at the same venue last year.