AUSTRALIA: Sri Lanka beat the Netherlands by 16 runs as Kusal Mendis, aided by a handful of cameos by Asalanka and Rajapaksa, propped up their nation to the Super-12 at the Geelong stadium.
Sri Lanka’s Innings
After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Sri Lanka was off to a slow start as openers Kusal Mendis (79 off 44 balls) and Pathum Nissanka (14 off 21 balls) took their time to get their eye in.
Nissanka, who got a reprieve in the 5th over as Paul van Meekeren (25/2) couldn’t latch onto a difficult catch off his own bowling, was the first wicket to fall as he was caught by a fuller ball from Meekeren in his next over.
Meekeren sent back Dhananjaya de Silva (0 off 1 ball) by trapping him LBW on the very next ball.
Meekeren missed out on his first hat trick and the tournament’s second in two days as the new man, Charith Asalanka (31 off 30 balls), edged the ball away for a single.
Sri Lanka scampered along to 60/2 after 10 overs as the batsmen couldn’t get the momentum going.
The 12th over by Timm van der Gugten (31/1) injected some life into the Sri Lankan innings as 12 runs came from it by virtue of Kusal Mendis’ six over the long leg boundary and quick running between the wickets by the batsmen.
The fruitful 60-run partnership for the third wicket came to an end after Asalanka edged a slow off-cutter from Bas de Leede (31/2) only to be caught behind by the wicketkeeper. Kusal Mendis soon brought up his ninth half-century in T20Is with a six off the lanky pacer and followed it up with a boundary through the off-side.
Bhanuka Rajapakse (19 off 13 balls) got a start but couldn’t convert it into a bigger score as he holed out at mid-wicket off de Leede in an attempt to clear the fence.
The Sri Lankan skipper, Dasun Shanaka (8 off 5 balls), made his intentions clear with a huge six over backward square leg off just the 3rd delivery he faced.
Kusal Mendis took Fred Klaasen (34/1) to the cleaners in the penultimate over of the Sri Lankan innings as he smashed consecutive sixes off the pacer.
Shanaka was caught off the bowling of Klaasen as he tried to up the scoring rate. In the last over, Mendis followed suit off the bowling of Timm van der Gugten after he had hit the pacer for a boundary in the previous delivery.
At one point, Wanindu Hasaranga (5 off 4 balls) and Chamika Karunaratne (2 off 2 balls) saw off the remaining deliveries to take Sri Lanka to 162/6, which at one point seemed improbable early in the Sri Lankan innings.
The Netherlands lost the plot early in their chase of the 163-run target. Openers Max O’Dowd (71* off 53 balls) and Vikram Singh (7 off 14 balls) couldn’t deliver the big scoring shots early on in the innings.
Vikram Singh looked out of sorts throughout his stay at the crease before handing an easy catch to Shanaka at mid-on.
Bas de Leede (14 off 10 balls) showed intent but threw away his wicket when he nicked an away going to the wicketkeeper off Lahiru Kumara (28/1).
Number four batsman Colin Ackermann (0 off 1 ball) was out for a golden duck as he lobbed one back to Wanindu Hasaranga (28/3).
At the end of the 10th over, the Dutch were 63/3, 100 runs in arrears. With the required run rate of above 10 per over, runs were needed from both ends, but it wasn’t to be as Tom Cooper (16 off 10 balls) was castled by Maheesh Theekshana (32/2) in the 12th over.
Max O’Dowd kept rotating the strike with some good running between the wickets, but with the required run rate well above 11 runs per over, big shots were needed.
The Netherlands’ skipper, Scott Edwards, took charge of Wanindu Hasaranga as he smashed the spinner for consecutive boundaries in the 14th over, which yielded 14 runs for the Dutch. He became Binura Fernando’s (33/1) first victim soon after he hit the pacer for a boundary in the 15th over.
Edwards tried to sweep a slower delivery, only for the ball to crash into the leg stump. Tim Pringle’s (1 off 2 balls) brief stay ended in the 16th over after he fell short of his crease in an attempt to steal a risky second run.
Wanindu Hasaranga tightened the noose around the Netherlands by having Timm van der Gugten bowled for a duck off the first ball he faced, leaving the Dutch side staring down the barrel at 107/7.
Hasaranga ended his spell with the wicket of Fred Klaasen (3 off 3 balls), who came running down the pitch but was beaten by the ball which stayed low and went on to disturb the stumps.
Max O’Dowd hit Fernando for a six and consecutive fours in the 18th over to bring up a fighting half-century.
Theekshana, bowling his last over and the 19th overall of the innings, was hit for two sixes by Max O’Dowd to bring the equation down to 23 off the last over.
Lahiru Kumara gave away only 6 runs, giving Sri Lanka a 16-run win which saw them qualify for the super-12 stage of the T20 World Cup.
An injured Roelof van der Merwe (0 off 1 ball) came in at 11, braving an injury and showed a lion-hearted performance as he ran swiftly between the wickets to give the strike to Max O’Dowd despite being in excruciating pain.