Opening batsman Pathum Nissanka held his nerve stroking a battling 74 off 60 balls to bat his side out of a hat-trick rut as Sri Lanka recovered to crush the UAE by 79 runs in a decisive must win Group A first round day-night fixture on Tuesday to stay on course in the T20 World Cup at Australia’s Kardina Park in Geelong. Sri Lanka, out into bat by the UAE, was going strong on 92 for 2 after 11.1 overs following a 42-run first-wicket partnership between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis who made 18 off 13 when Karthik Meiyappan struck a hat-trick blow for the UAE when he removed Bhanuka Rajapaksa for 5 and Charith Asalanka and the Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka as Sri Lanka slid to 117 for 5 after 15 overs. Meiyappan had Rajapaksa caught by Basil Hameed off the fourth ball of his third over as the batsman tried to clear extra cover and had Charith Asalanka caught behind and followed it up bowling Dasun Shanaka, his last two dismissals to peach googlies.
When Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva fell 4 balls later for 2 Sri Lanka had precipitated to 120 for 6. But Pathum Nissanka reigned in going on to spur Sri Lanka on finding an able ally in Chamika Karunaratne as the pair added 30 decisive runs off 23 deliveries with the latter contributing 8 off 17.
Prior to the hat-trick setback it was the 50-run second wicket alliance between Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva who slammed 33 off 21 with 3 boundaries and a 6 that had got the side going. Dhananjaya was run out when the pair were threatening to put Sri Lanka in total control.
Nissanka went on to put the UAE attack to the sword following up a six off Meiyappan by smashing Siddique for 6 and 4 in doubling up the Lankan innings in the penultimate over. It was a typical fiery knock of bravado spanning 6 boundaries and 2 sixes as Nissanka was last out the job done with a delivery left. It was the perfect leverage for the Lankan bowlers to do the rest on the ultimate 152 for 8 off 20.
The UAE’s run chase that took off with two crashing boundaries was checked with the advent of speedster Dushmantha Chameera who ploughed through with a 3 for 15 take off 3.5 overs with the impeccable Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva doing the rest with a 3 for 8 clean up. The bottom line victor to taking Sri Lanka home Pathum Nissanka walked away with the Player of the Match reward.