Madushka Balasuriyain ESPNcricinfo, 30 June 2023, where the title runs thus: “Sri Lanka survive Edwards scare to defend 213”
Sri Lanka 213 (Dhananjaya 93, van Beek 3-26, de Leede 3-42) beat Netherlands 192 (Edwards 67, Barresi 52, Theekshana 3-31) by 21 runs
Sri Lanka survived an almighty scare as they scraped past Netherlands by 21 runs to kickstart their Super Six campaign on a nervy but winning note. It was a victory built on the back of a career-best 93 from Dhananjaya de Silva and a backs-against-the-wall bowling effort led by the excellent Maheesh Theekshana, who picked 3 for 31.
Dhananjaya de Silva propped up a shoddy Sri Lanka batting performance • ICC via Getty Images
But every inch of this win was contested by a persistent Netherlands outfit, who first restricted Sri Lanka to a subpar 213 and then nearly pulled off a nail-biting chase. Better sides than them have fallen foul of the twin threats of Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga, who picked up five wickets between them on the day. Two run-outs, when the required rate throughout was essentially less than four an over, only adds credence to this notion. Netherlands captain Scott Edwards was left stranded on an unbeaten 68-ball 67, as he ran out of partners on a sticky surface that was taking turn and displaying some uneven bounce.
The result means Sri Lanka join Zimbabwe on six points at the top of the table, with the winner of their clash on Sunday guaranteed qualification to the World Cup. As for the Netherlands, they can still get up to a maximum of six points but will now need one of Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe to lose both their remaining games.
Theekshana also made an impact with the bat, sticking it out in the middle with Dhananjaya during a vital 77-run eighth wicket stand. With the game won by 21, the importance of Theekshana’s gritty 28 cannot be overstated, especially seeing that it came after Sri Lanka had been reduced to 131 for 7.
Netherlands did all the running for much of the game. Starting with the very first delivery of the game, when Pathum Nissanka slashed wildly at one outside off stump to be caught at cover.
That would be one of three wickets for the excellent Logan van Beek, who would also send Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka packing – all before the end of the first powerplay.
Nissanka’s wouldn’t be the only questionable stroke by a Sri Lankan batter, as several were dismissed trying to hit out. This though was down to Netherlands persisting with nagging lines and lengths, allied with Sri Lanka’s inability to find singles and rotate strike consistently. The build up of pressure had batters falling while attempting to break the shackles. And, if not, the odd one that kept low would do the trick.
This was essentially the tale of Sri Lanka’s innings, as Netherlands bowled wicket to wicket and refused to allow for easy runs. It was only Dhananjaya who showed the patience to thrive on this surface. He stitched together successive stands of 33, 29, 35 and 77 with Dimuth Karunaratne, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Theekshana respectively, to drag Sri Lanka to a defendable total.
In defence of their target, Sri Lanka knocked over both openers for ducks inside the first two overs. But then the game began to slip away. Wesley Barresi and Bas de Leede – who had grabbed three wickets earlier – put on 77 for the third wicket, in a partnership that was highlighted by its industrious nature. The pair found boundaries frequently, but more than that they scrambled for every run.
By the start of the 15th over they were going at a rate beyond six an over. But it would be their exuberance to grab every advantage that would be their downfall, as an ill-advised second would see Barresi run out. Barresi’s wicket would be followed by Teja Nidamanuru five balls later. De Leede and Edwards then put on a 41-ball 36.
Theekshana returned to go through a gap between de Leede’s bat and pad to clean him up. He then executed a double-wicket maiden to send Netherlands tumbling to 133 for 7.
From that point on it was a lone hand from Edwards, who employed the sweep to great effect and found ones and twos with ease. This would bring the target closer, but Sri Lanka were into the tail and so they chipped away. After an incredible throw to the non-striker’s end by keeper Kusal Mendis saw Shariz Ahmad run out, Hasaranga castled Klein with a googly.
Edwards then looked to farm the strike alongside Dutt, but an inswinging yorker from Shanaka dispatched the latter. That Shanaka was even bowling at that stage was only down to the fact that Lahiru Kumara had been able to complete just two overs before being withdrawn with a side strain.
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