T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka save their best for last, beat Netherlands by 83 runs

PTI, Jun 17, 2024, 10:07 AM IST

Credit: X / @ICC

Gros Islet (Saint Lucia): Sri Lanka finally found their mojo as they clinically disposed off the Netherlands by a whopping 83 runs in an inconsequential final group D league game of the T20 World Cup here.

With Bangladesh beating Nepal by 21 runs in the other group league game, the faint outside chance that the Netherlands had despite a way inferior net run-rate was up in smoke as they were bowled out for 118 in pursuit of an improbable target of 202 set by Wanindu Hasaranga’s men.

The Sri Lankans left it too late while bringing their A game to the fore as all three units fired in unison but the horse has already bolted as they were out of reckoning for the Super Eights.

The Sri Lankan middle order were brilliant with veteran Angelo Mathews (30 off 15 balls) and skipper Hasaranga (20 off 10 balls) shored up the scoring rate but it was left-hander Charith Asalanka’s 21-ball-46 that was the real difference in their innings. Asalanka smashed five sixes as Sri Lanka crossed the 200-run mark.

Asalanka, smoked the Netherlands bowlers with minimal footwork and maximum power, keeping a stable base that allowed him to go for the jugular.

“These are far better conditions than the USA, and we enjoyed those conditions. It can be tough to come in at No. 5. We just played the conditions,” said Asalanka, who was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’.

“I know I have to be a little more consistent. In general we are a little disappointed about the results in the first two games. But in the end we had a good game here,” the southpaw said.

During the chase, the Netherlands openers Michael Levitt (31) and Max O’Dowd (11) added 45 in just 4.2 overs but once Maheesh Theekshana got the former stumped, there was virtually no resistance from the other batters.

Slinger Nuwan Thushara (3/24) was the pick of the Lankan bowlers while Chennai Super Kings star Matheesha Pathirana (2/12) also remained accurate during his overs hitting the blockhole consistently.

From being 45 for no loss in the first five overs, the Netherlands lost half of the side by the time they reached the halfway stage. Any remote chances of an impressive win ended then and there.

It was one of the best tracks across both USA and the Caribbean islands and there was very little room for error on a track where ball came onto the bat nicely. Kusal Mendis, a seasoned campaigner, started the onslaught with 46 off 29 balls with a flurry of boundaries in the Powerplay to set the tone.

That allowed Asalanka, Mathews and Hasaranga to go hammer and tongs towards the back-end.

“After the bad first two games this win is very healthy for us. The wicket was really good we just wanted to put a 160-170 score on this wicket. With our attack anything over 160 we can defend. In the first two games we lost two or three wickets in the first six overs. Today we didn’t. I think that was the difference,” Hasaranga said at post-match presentation ceremony.

For Netherlands, the performance was a bit underwhelming in this format after impressing one and all during their 50-over global campaign in India last year. Even their Australia-born skipper Scott Edwards, who scored 31 on the day, admitted that his team was found wanting against better quality sides.

“We had good patches throughout the tournament where we gave our chances to win at least three of those games. But something was slightly off and against good quality sides you can’t afford that.

“In the batting, we needed someone to have a big innings, and we weren’t able to do that. Backing our boys to come back firing.”

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