There was a familiar sight at the Galle Cricket Stadium on Monday night with Lorcan Tucker batting in the middle with Andy McBrine.

The pair who had put on 111 in Ireland’s last Test match against Bangladesh were together again and they will need to produce another massive fightback if they are to take this Test match into a fourth day.

Ireland finished day two on 117 for seven, still needing 275 to avoid the follow-on after another top order failure by the batters.

It was always going to be a tough ask once Sri Lanka had amassed 591 for six before declaring halfway through the day as Harry Tector attempted to explain at the end-of-day press conference.

“The hardest bit for the batters is to switch on mentally after a 10-minute turnaround and facing your first ball,” he said. “If you make one mental error you are gone. It’s tough but it is our job and we have to deal with that pressure a bit better. I’d just finished padding up when I was walking out to bat so that made it slightly easier for me in one sense, and I felt ok.”

His entrance, to face the last ball of the second over, meant that Ireland were already two down with left arm paceman Vishwa Fernando bowling Murray Commins first ball and then having captain Andrew Balbirnie caught at short leg.

Tector and James McCollum led the recovery of sorts with a stand of 70 for the third wicket but then it all went wrong.

Tector was the first to go, caught at slip for 34, and two balls later, a brain fade by Curtis Campher saw him hit slow left armer Prabath Jayasuriya straight to cover.

In Jayasuriya’s next over, McCollum, on 35, was beaten on the forward defensive and when PJ Moor was caught behind for 14, Ireland were 92 for six and staring down the barrel.

George Dockrell survived 23 balls but scored only two runs before he became Jayasuriya’s fifth victim to let in McBrine much earlier than he or Ireland would have wanted.

Fortunately, Tucker has looked untroubled so far, the happy sweeper producing his favourite shot at every opportunity and he has already faced 49 balls for his 21 including two boundaries off Jayasuriya. A long vigil will be required in the morning if Ireland are to give themselves any chance of avoiding an innings defeat.

The day had started promisingly for the tourists with Campher dismissing nightwatchman Jayasuriya in his first over and McBrine following up with the wicket of Dhananjaya de Silva with his first ball. At that stage, Sri Lanka had added only 22 to their overnight total and there should have been a third wicket but Tucker spilled a straightforward chance behind the wicket off a big inside edge from Chandimal who was on 18 at the time.

He wouldn’t give another chance and duly went on to complete his 14th Test century in a unbroken seventh wicket stand of 181 with Sadeera Samarawickrama who had been recalled to the team as wicket-keeper after an absence of more than five years.

His previous best Test score was 38 but with 12 first class centuries to his name he is obviously a decent batter and captain Dimuth Karunaratne was able to wait until he too brought up his century before closing the innings.

Mark Adair was the unlucky bowler who had Chandimal dropped but halfway through his fourth over he walked off the ground with some problem which the Ireland camp are not revealing.

The strike bowler did return to bowl four more overs after lunch but any possible injury is sure to be treated with extreme caution, considering they are already without the injured Craig Young and Barry McCarthy and three World Cup Super League games against Bangladesh just three weeks away.

It left Curtis Campher as the only pace bowler and the spin department relying heavily on McBrine, with Ben White and George Dockrell both going at more than five runs an over through the innings while picking up a wicket apiece.

Summing up the day and Ireland’s position, Tector added: “It’s not ideal, we will have to come back in the morning and go really big and when we bat again we are going to have to show better application than in the first innings.”

And that will be easier said than done with the pitch, already taking more turn than on day one, only going to be more spin-bowler friendly at the match progresses.