Sri Lanka cruise to their first win – Hindustan Times

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Bowling had been a significant concern for Sri Lanka in their first three matches of the World Cup. Almost all their bowlers struggled against Australia and Pakistan, even as the batters gave their best, scoring over 300 runs in both matches. However, the Sri Lankan bowling unit finally found some rhythm on Saturday and guided their team to a five-wicket victory over the Netherlands.
Kasun Rajitha (4/50) and in-form left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka (4/49) helped the 1996 champions dismiss the Dutch for 262 after reducing the rivals to 91/6 early in the game. Well-crafted half-centuries by Sadeera Samarawickrama and Pathum Nissanka made things easier for Sri Lanka, who won with 10 balls to spare.
Sri Lanka lost opener Kusal Parera and skipper Kusal Mendis early in the chase, but Nissanka and Samarawickrama kept the scoreboard ticking along, putting together a 52-run partnership for the third wicket. Nissanka (54, 52 balls, 9×4) lost his concentration and edged a straightforward catch to Edwards but in-form Samarawickrama continued to strike the ball nicely around the lush green outfield of the Ekana Stadium.
Samarawickrama, who had scored a century against Pakistan, played cautiously against the Netherlands’ bowlers, especially off-spinner Aryan Dutt (3/44). His 77-run stand with Charith Asalanka (44, 66 balls, 2×4, 1×6) further steadied Sri Lanka’s innings. He, however, missed his second century in this World Cup, scoring an unbeaten 91 (107 balls, 7×4).
The Netherlands, who scored a stunning win over South Africa four days back at Dharamsala, never got going, losing six quick wickets for just 91 in 21.2 overs. Sri Lanka could have bowled them out cheaply, but the contribution of 33 extra runs, including 26 wide balls, allowed the batters to capitalize on the opportunity.
South African-born Sybrand Engelbrecht and Logan van Beek led a remarkable recovery with maiden half-centuries to help the Netherlands post a competitive total. Engelbrecht, who had retired from all forms of cricket after playing for Cape Cobras in South Africa in 2016, was at his best during an 82-ball 70 and even shared a 130-run partnership with Van Beek.
There were many ups and downs in this clash between the two bottom-rung teams, and the Dutch showed a lot of energy on the field. Their “never say die” attitude reflected well in both batting and bowling.
However, the win brought a smile to the face of Mendis, who praised everyone’s contribution in the team’s first win in this edition of the World Cup. “I’m very happy today. We did really well in everything. Bowlers did exceptionally well in the first ten overs. The ball started turning a bit towards the end of the match, but Sadeera batted really well,” said Mendis after the match.
Losing captain Edwards said, “We didn’t start well. We got ourselves to a pretty competitive total. We didn’t field well, but our bowlers have been pretty good for us throughout the tournament. We had a feeling that it started to turn later,” he said, adding, “I thought Aryan bowled exceptionally well today. Our batting hasn’t quite clicked yet. It’s obviously great that Sybrand and Logan chipped in with 130 runs. Ideally, we would get more runs at the top.”
Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.


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