Dhananjaya de Silva Player of the Match 93
By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka overcame a scare from the Netherlands to virtually grab victory from the jaws of defeat in their first Super Six fixture of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup by 21 runs with 10 overs to spare defending a below par total of 213 that was bolstered by Dhananjaya de Silva’s resolute Player of the Match 93 off 111 balls laced with 8 boundaries and 2 over the top at the Queens Sports Club Grounds in Bulawayo on Friday. But the big overs victory margin as it was would not blot what was the early drama of an ominous Dutch gallop into the 15th over as the Netherlands seemed on course for their second shock win in the ICC 2023 World Cup having thrashed the West Indies in the qualifiers when Wesley Barresi and Bas de Leede were going strong having added 77 off 79 balls for the third wicket at over six an over when everything the Lankans tried failed. That was when Barresi was taken out possibly the only way they could have seen his back when he was beaten to a second run by Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka’s throw to wicket-keeper Kusal Mendis. It was the one costly moment of Dutch indiscretion to what had looked a perfect professional thrust to shocking the former world champions with both Barresi and Leede in total control of their shot making with the latter indulging in clean hitting stroke play of clearing the boundary line in speeding to an almost run a ball 52 powered by 6 boundaries and a six when a run that was not there proved to be his undoing.
With Barresi’s dismissal what had looked to have disintegrated for the Sri Lankans had suddenly come alive again after Lahiru Kumara and Dilshan Madushanka made two early strikes in reducing the Netherlands to 11 for 2 after just seven deliveries. A second Madushanka strike soon after would have put the Lankans in total command when he rapped the next man in plumb on the pads, but the replay showed there was a slight bat edge nick after the head umpire had ruled him out. .
The Lankans however, capitalised on the big breakthrough they had got in sending back the dangerous Barresi in finally making it in seesawing drama as the Netherlands skipper Scott Edwards continued to keep his side in the game causing anxious moments for the former world champions. He remained to the end in a run a ball 67 hitting 4 boundaries and 2 sixes as the Lankans held their nerve in an ultimate demolition job in only 40 overs in stopping a threatening Dutch side in their tracks. Maheesh Theekshana claimed 3 for 31 and Wanindu Hasaranga 2 for 53 in that Lankan comeback.
But the Lankans would be wise to their top order batting debacle as they move on from the top insulation where the top two teams will go through to the World Cup following each team playing the sides they did not meet in the group stage. The early toll caused by the fiery pace of Logan van Beek’s 3-wicket burst did certainly undermine the Lankan batting mechanism after opting to take first lease before Dhananjaya de Silva rallied the innings. But back to the drawing board, the Lankan think tank would have the home work of plugging the weak link as they will be challenged by tougher opposition in the take-off to getting up there. But for the cool and calm Dhananjaya de Silva rescue act, only opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne made a substantial score of 33 followed by Wanindu Hasarange de Silva 20 as indiscreet shot making caused that Lankan precipitation with Maheesh Theekshana at the tail making 28. The casualties right up there were Pathum Nissanka gone for a duck, Kusal Mendis 10, Sadeera Samarawickrama 1, Charith Asalanka 2 and Dasun Shanaka 5.
Sri Lanka 213 (47.4 Overs)
(Dhananjaya de Silva 93, Dimuth Karunaratne 33, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 20,Maheesh Theekshana 28, Logan van Beek 3/26, Bas de Leandede 3/42, Saqib Zulfiqar 2/48, Aryan Dutt 1/34, Ryan Klein 1/38)
Netherlands 192 (40 Overs)
(Scott Edwards n.o. 67, Wesley Barresi run out 52, Bas de Leede 41, Maheesh Theekshana 3/31,Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 2/53, Lahiru Kumara 1/17, Dasun Shanaka 1/18, Dilshan Madushanka 1/38)