The most recent match in the ICC T20 World Cup was the first dead rubber of the tournament, and Sri Lanka was ruthless in its execution. Seven years after dismissing the Netherlands for 39, the lowest T20 World Cup total ever, Sri Lanka dismissed the same opposition for 44 in ten overs, the second-lowest total.
As far as the Netherlands were concerned, there was little to play for, and Sri Lanka looked like they meant business from the moment Dasun Shanaka put them in to bat. When Max O’Dowd went for a risky single on the fourth pitch, the captain affected a direct hit at the non-end striker’s to send the top-scoring Netherlands batter back cheaply. From there, carrom-bowling sensation Maheesh Theekshana and legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga led a procession.
After rattling their middle stumps with carrom balls neither could read, Theekshana sent Ben Cooper and Stephan Myburgh back to the pavilion. At the same time, Hasaranga honed in on the pads with wrong’uns that appeared impossible for the opposition to pick. Colin Ackermann, Bas de Leede, and Pieter Seelaar all failed to get their pads out of the way of the googly, and the Netherlands were reduced to 37 for six by the end of a great powerplay.
As if that wasn’t enough, Sri Lanka reintroduced Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara to the lower order, where they will face deliveries that regularly exceed 145kph. When one hit Scott Edwards in the head, the physio was called out to perform a concussion test, but Kumara put him out of his misery by pitching one up into his pads. It started with an over in which he dismissed the final three Netherlands batters in six balls to end the innings in ten overs and set his batters up for a canter chase.
To assuage concerns about an underperforming top order, Sri Lanka would have preferred to see the top order run this down without losing a wicket. Nissanka, on the other hand, holed out at mid-off for a duck, while Asalanka squandered his chance at No. 3. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, was not in a hurry to force the issue, quickly dispatching the target.
Kusal Perera had played a brilliant cameo that should boost his confidence as the tournament progresses, scoring an unbeaten 33 off 24 balls and demonstrating his aggressiveness in the top order. Avishka Fernando scored the winning runs, but it was all about the bowling for Sri Lanka today.