Sri Lanka finish ODI WC qualifier with spotless record after bowlers script big win in the final

Sri Lanka 233 (Arachchige 57, Mendis 43, Asalanka 36, Vikramjit 2-12) beat Netherlands 105 (O’Dowd 33, Theekshana 4-31, Madushanka 3-18, Hasaranga 2-35) by 128 runs

It was a match that didn’t matter, and yet Sri Lanka drove their point home anyway. Stung, perhaps, by needing to qualify for the 2023 ODI World Cup, they kept their foot on the throttle despite having qualified, dismantling Netherlands by a 128-run margin in the qualifier final.

Despite a late batting collapse where they lost their last seven wickets for 53 runs, Sri Lanka were always on top as their bowlers blew Netherlands away before the chase had even begun.

Dilshan Madushanka did the bulk of the damage upfront as he picked up three wickets inside the ninth over, and Wanindu Hasaranga was on the job too, with two against his name by the 12th over. Maheesh Theekshana then took over, picking up four wickets to skittle Netherlands for 105. That meant Sri Lanka had won the qualifying event without losing a single match. Both finalists, of course, had already qualified for the ODI World Cup, to be held in India later this year.

Fresh from the high of a scintillating chase against Scotland, Netherlands opted to field first again. Vikramjit Singh struck either side of the first powerplay to remove both openers after a sedate start, but Kusal Mendis and Sahan Arachchige consolidated over the next 13 overs. The scoring rate went up and so did Sri Lanka’s dominance in the game with little on offer from the pitch for the bowlers. The batters used the sweep liberally against the spin bowlers, especially leggie Saqib Zulfiqar, but when Mendis missed a straight one, Netherlands had their breakthrough.

Arachchige brought up a half-century, while Charith Asalanka‘s run-a-ball 36 began to set Sri Lanka up for the finish, but a staggering collapse helped Netherlands storm back into the contest.

A sharp catch by Logan van Beek at point brought an end to Arachchige’s innings before Asalanka was run-out two deliveries later. Netherlands broke through Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva to burrow into Sri Lanka’s tail, and only a cameo from Hasaranga helped them cross 200. But another flurry of quick wickets at the death brought an end to that stand, and Netherlands had 234 to chase.

The first few overs were as good as it got for them in the chase, as they racked up 25 in 4.3 overs. But when Vikramjit carved a straight one to cover-point, the floodgates opened. Madushanka cleaned up Wesley Barresi, before Hasaranga trapped Teja Nidamanuru in front. Netherlands were shaken as captain Scott Edwards fell to a careless run-out, and they were suddenly down at 49 for 6.

Max O’Dowd hung around gamely to ensure the total edged towards three figures, but Sri Lanka had already dispatched with the opposition. Theekshana returned to beat O’Dowd’s outside edge and knock back his off stump after a gritty 36-run partnership with van Beek. It was the first of four as Theekshana took up the role of mopper-up, trapping each of the last three in front as the World Cup-bound Netherlands folded for 105.

These two sides will meet again in a more important contest in India, when Edwards will hope his side can give a fairer account of themselves.

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