Kusal Mendis smote a blistering 44-ball 74 to take Sri Lanka through to a 16-run triumph over the Netherlands in today’s day night at Kardina Park, Geelonlg for an on course second success following the shock defeat in the T20 World Cup opener. But as the Lankans went through the formalities gearing for the tougher opposition on the cards, they did find stiff resistance from Dutch opener Max O’Dowd who stood to the end striking a defiant 51-ball 71 smashing two sixes off Maheesh Theekshana, one off a no ball in taking the Netherlands to within sight of a final 23 runs chasing Sri Lanka’s 162 for 6 off 20. But it was as far as the Dutch would go with injury replacement fast man Lahiru Kumara bowling an impeccable final over conceding just 6 runs.
O’Dowd carried his bat in that unbeaten gallantry that did proud little known Netherlands in defeat in a Group A Sri Lankan cruising mounted on Mendis’ fireworks in a run blaze 50 of which in sixes and fours. In that run thrust, conspicuous was the run a ball 31 (3×4) coming back to form of the left hander Charith Asalanka from a hollow of ducks in reigning in with the message that form is temporary, but that class is permanent. His third wicket lending together with Mendis set up in a 60-run blaze off 45 galvanized the score from 36 for 2 to 96 for 3 after 14.1 overs after Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva had fallen for 14 and a duck. Following his departure Bhanuka Rajapaksa 19 off 13 sped it to 130 off 17.2 as Mendis continued to dominate in typical fire from the hip style as he watched his skipper Dasun Shanaka depart for 8 in a 21-run consolidation to the booty. The Mendis magic went as far as the second delivery of the final over with the job done – 157 for 6 with Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva on 5 and Chamika Karunaratne on 2 in that final score of 162 for 6.
The Netherlands 146 for 9 was respectable in defeat with Max O’Dowd remaining the lone warrior in that lost cause with only three others getting into double figures – Scott Edwards 21, Bus de Leede 14 and Tom Cooper 10 in the face of a hostile Sri Lankan attack. Replacement fast howlers Lahiru Kumara. 1 for 28 and Binura Fernando 1 for 33 did a fine job with Maheesh Theekshana doing the early damage with the ball claiming 2 for 32 for spin wizard Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva to clean up the Netherlands innings with a 3 for 28 take. Of course, the Player of the Match pay off belonged to Kusal Mendis.