Paul Stirling and Curtis Campher scored centuries yesterday in Galle to consolidate Ireland’s strong position in the second Test against Sri Lanka, as bat again dominated ball on the second day of the contest.

An impressive total of 492 all out should be enough to earn Ireland at least a draw - only seven teams have lost after scoring that many in the first innings of a Test - but Sri Lanka began their reply strongly, reaching 81-0 before a thunderstorm ended play.

“We’re fairly happy with that,” Stirling said. “You’d take 500 - or nearly 500 - every day of the week but if I was being hyper-critical I’d say that one of the lads who got runs could have gone on and maybe taken us closer to the 600 mark, which was achievable.”

The beefy 32-year-old, who had retired hurt on 74 with severe cramping on the first afternoon, found himself back in the middle during the first over when Lorcan Tucker was bowled for 80, having added only two to his excellent runs of the previous evening.

Stirling picked up where he left and went to three figures with a powerful swat over backward point for his fourth six, joining a select band of 23 internationals, which includes Kevin O’Brien, who have scored centuries in all three formats.

Paul Stirling celebrates his century (SLC)

Subjected to a bumper barrage, he succumbed to another short ball soon after, caught at fine leg for 103, to end a partnership of 64 with Campher, who had gone to his 50 with a slog-sweep for six over mid-wicket.

After playing support to Tucker and Stirling, the all-rounder then took centre stage, moving quickly to his maiden century for Ireland that he celebrated with a delighted leap as one of his 15 fours crossed the ropes.

The innings folded quickly after Campher was spectacularly caught at slip for 111, but in addition to a number of individual records, it was Ireland’s highest Test score and also the most posted by any visiting side at the iconic ground.

The size of the total, and its significance, was not lost on a team that hadn’t bettered 339 in their first five Tests.

“There seem to be firsts for us every time we play a Test, and that’s brilliant because you do get confidence from that,” Stirling said. 

“Maybe you don’t believe you can do something until you’ve done it once, and when you have done something once, you feel like you can repeat it.”