By Srian Obeyesekere
A bottom of the table Sri Lanka confronts the Netherlands from a desperate winless blank sheet world cup hoodoo against a minnow’s side buoyed by stunning South Africa to moving to eighth position in the 2023 World Cup points table tomorrow at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow where the Lankans were badly beaten by Australia last Monday.
In a must win confrontation for the Lankans Saturday’s game boils down to typical showdown heights given the comparative standings between the two sides drummed up by Netherlands shock 38-run win over South Africa few days ago despite Sri Lanka’s flawless unbeaten ODI record against the Dutch driven by a resounding 128-run crushing in the World Cup qualifier when the Netherlands lost their last seven wickets for 53 runs.
However, the Dutch have found new courage by shocking a high riding South Africa in a reversal of the Proteas high standings from having brought down five times cup winners Australia in their opening fixture on real bravado by No. 7 wicketkeeper-batsman Scott Edwards – born in Tonga holding Dutch and Australian citizenship – with a brilliant 78 runs from 69 balls. The Netherlands ran up 245 for 8 from 43 overs and Logan van Beek dismantled South Africa with 3 wickets for 60 from 8.5 overs.
Sri Lanka has been overly tipped the favourites to beat the Netherlands, but the bouncing nature by which Sri Lanka has ended losers in their three past fixtures from the strength of fantastic batting starts does certainly put the onus on the Lankans to get their act together in all three departments of the game if the are to hit the winning trail from a hopeless position. The lesson from great starts as the 125 for no loss against Australia is the need for the well set batsmen to go the ultimate distance without falling on the way.
Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that Sri Lanka have called in veteran all-rounder Angelo Matthews and pacer Dushmantha Chameera to join the Sri Lanka World Cup squad as traveling reserves. The move comes after captain Dasun Shanaka was ruled out of the tournament and was replaced by Chamika Karunaratne. However, they can be called up for duty only in the event of injury to the squad players.