Lorcan Tucker may have to summon the spirit of Dhaka today if Ireland are to avoid a humbling three-day defeat by Sri Lanka after the home team continued their total domination of the first Test match between the sides.

Tucker, who batted most of the third day while scoring a century against Bangladesh earlier this month, found himself in a similar - if much worse - situation at stumps last night, with Ireland 117-7 in reply to a massive 591-6 declared.

The only flicker of hope was that he again had Andy McBrine at the other end, the nuggety all-rounder who made the second highest score in Dhaka, albeit in a losing cause.

If the eighth-wicket pair could somehow cobble together another sizable partnership on a pitch that is starting to grip, it could at least inspire the Ireland batters to make a better first of their second innings after the inevitable follow on.

In fairness, there are few tougher assignments than having to bat after a day-and-a-half of leather chasing in sweltering conditions, and the visitors lost opener Murray Commins and skipper Andy Balbirnie within 11 balls.

Commins was bowled off stump by a rapid well-directed delivery he played inside and Balbirnie had the horrible misfortune to strike short leg with a firm clip and see the ball pop up off the fielder for a simple catch.

A 70-run partnership between James McCollum and Harry Tector settled the innings, with the latter boldly launching a six over mid-wicket before edging to slip on 34 to give left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya the first of five wickets.

Curtis Campher fell two balls later, slapping wildly into the covers, and when McCollum was bowled for 35 by a beauty that pitched, turned and found the top of off, Tucker was walking to the wicket with his side 85-5 and still 307 runs shy of the follow on target.

The day had started well for Ireland with Campher the beneficiary of a dubious decision and McBrine claiming a far more obvious lbw with his first ball after going wicketless through 27 overs on the opening day.

There were no more successes, though, as Dinesh Chandimal and Sadeera Samarawickrama became Sri Lanka’s third and fourth centurions, and the declaration left a tricky eight overs to face before tea.

“The hardest thing in that situation is to mentally switch on because you only have 10 minutes on the turn around,” Tector said.

“If you make one mental error you’re gone, so it does happen really fast. For me that was right up there with batting at the end of the second day in Bangladesh when we lost those four wickets. It was tough but we’ve got to be better at dealing with that pressure.”