by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Trent Boult played a pivotal role in guiding New Zealand to a dominant victory over Sri Lanka in Bengaluru, all but securing their spot in the World Cup semi-finals against India. With this win, New Zealand amassed ten points and an impressive net run rate (NRR) of 0.743. Pakistan’s chances of qualifying now hinged on an improbable requirement of defeating England by a margin of 287 runs, while Afghanistan needed an even more unlikely 438-run victory over South Africa to surpass New Zealand’s NRR.
If Pakistan were to chase the NRR, they would have no realistic chance of making it to the semi-finals.
For Sri Lanka, the defeat against New Zealand placed them in the ninth position, eliminating their hopes of qualifying for the 2025 Champions Trophy. To secure qualification, Sri Lanka now needed England or Bangladesh to suffer losses, while the Netherlands also had to lose to India, causing their respective NRRs to drop below Sri Lanka’s.
New Zealand’s comprehensive win was a result of their strong performance with both bat and ball. Opting to field first after winning the toss, they aimed to secure a high NRR-boosting victory and safeguard against potential rain interruptions and Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) interventions. This strategy paid off as they comfortably chased down Sri Lanka’s total of 171 runs. Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, and Daryl Mitchell all contributed with valuable forties, breaking the chase open. Although all three fell before the end, New Zealand’s victory was never in doubt.
New Zealand’s bowlers, including Lockie Ferguson, Mitchell Santner, and Rachin Ravindra, shared the wickets, with Trent Boult’s remarkable performance of 3 for 37 setting the stage for Sri Lanka’s innings and earning him the Player-of-the-Match award. Despite dropping three catches, New Zealand’s dominance was evident. The first catch was of Kusal Perera, who had not scored, but Tom Latham redeemed himself with a simple catch off Pathum Nissanka’s nick. Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama also fell quickly, both due to Boult’s excellent bowling, taking his World Cup wickets tally to 52.
Kusal Perera was the lone fighter for Sri Lanka, attacking with aggressive stroke play and capitalizing on New Zealand’s early drop. His 50 off just 22 deliveries was the joint second-fastest by a Sri Lankan in ODI World Cups. However, his dismissal followed by Charith Asalanka’s lbw decision turned the tide in New Zealand’s favor. Ferguson claimed Perera’s wicket, ending the Sri Lankan’s resistance at 70 for 5 in the tenth over. Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva provided some resistance, but Santner’s clever variations in pace and control ultimately led to their dismissals.
Mathews and Dhananjaya both fell, with Mitchell taking the catches, while Chamika Karunaratne also edged behind off Ferguson. Sri Lanka’s innings appeared to be heading towards a swift conclusion, but Maheesh Theekshana, in partnerships with Dushmantha Chameera and Dilshan Madushanka, displayed resilience. Theekshana faced 91 deliveries, more than all of Sri Lanka’s frontline batters combined. Even Madushanka faced 48 balls, exceeding the contributions of other batters apart from Theekshana.
Theekshana remained unbeaten with 38 runs, the second-highest scorer of the innings. The ninth and tenth wicket partnerships, although adding 58 runs, extended over 139 deliveries. Sri Lanka’s eighth wicket fell in the 24th over, but it wasn’t until the 47th over that New Zealand finally dismissed them. Ravindra found Madushanka’s edge, and Latham completed a sharp catch.
It took some time for New Zealand to secure this crucial victory, but it has all but ensured their fifth consecutive ODI World Cup semi-final appearance.