A huge thunderstorm cut short the third day of the second Test by a full session to the relief of the Ireland bowlers who had suffered for more than four hours.

Sri Lanka finished the day on 357 for one, just 135 runs behind Ireland’s first innings total and if the teams get a full day’s play on Thursday, Ireland could face a difficult last day trying to avoid defeat.

Curtis Campher, the pick of the bowlers, claimed Ireland’s only success after their hosts resumed on 81 for no wicket, thanks to a first catch on his Test match debut by Matthew Humphreys but following the stand of 228 – the highest for the first wicket in Galle – Nishan Maduskha and Kusal Mendis have already put on another three-figure partnership.

It should have been ended on 63 but Andrew Balbirnie dropped Madushka at slip and as bowling coach Ryan Eagleson admitted at the end of the day, you can’t afford to miss them at this level. But, he remained positive looking ahead to the next two days.

“That’s the beauty of Test match cricket you can go bang-bang and get two new batters in, but it’s just creating that chance and we had a couple today, we didn’t take them and at this level you have to take your chances.

“The ball was reverse swinging for Curtis Campher towards the end but the plan tomorrow is if we get a couple of early wickets and get new batters in you never know where this Test can go.”

It will be easier said than done against this formidable batting line-up. Madushka may be playing only his third Test but he has 40 first class games under his belt and a top score of 300 not out, while Mendis, who has scored 83 off just 96 balls, has a Test best of 196. And that’s only the two who are in the middle.

“We have struggled today,” admitted Eagleson, “We didn’t put the ball in the right areas consistently and gave away too many four balls and even six balls and Test match cricket is about building that pressure - putting dot balls together, bowling maidens.

“I think we bowled only four maidens today but credit to the Sri Lanka batters the way they went about their business today and didn’t let our bowlers settle.”

The Galle pitch usually starts to take turn by the end of day three but when the umpires took the players off the field 15 minutes before the scheduled tea interval, initially because of bad light, there will little sign of that, which was why Campher was bowling from one end and Harry Tector at the other.

It meant Ireland’s front three spinners had had a difficult day. McBrine was comfortably the most economical but apart from inducing the big chance of the day, he rarely troubled the batsmen and Ben White and Humphreys were just too inconsistent with their length.

It was always going to be a huge ask for Humphreys, not only playing his first Test but also his maiden first-class game and after getting only two three-over spells, on Monday night and before lunch yesterday, he was brought back into the attack with Sri Lanka on 316 for one.

Mendis, a free-spirited player and fond of the big hits, took an immediate liking to him and a full toss was hit over the mid-wicket boundary and in Humphreys’ next over he hit three more sixes off successive deliveries.

At the end of the over, it was disappointing to see only James McCollum, who had to run 80 yards from deep mid-wicket, have any words of consolation for the 20-year-old, but Eagleson was more forthcoming in his press conference.

“Matthew’s challenge going forward is just to be more consistent and as a left arm spinner land in the danger areas and, as you saw, a couple of bad balls were put away. But he will learn from it and come back, it’s just consistency across the board with a lot of our bowlers.”

The one wicket to fall was Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne to the last ball before lunch, pulling Campher straight to fine leg, two balls after undergoing the compulsory concussion check after missing a bouncer and being hit on the helmet, But by then he had reached his 16th Test century – just another indication of what a fast learning curve this Ireland team is on.