by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Sadeera Samarawickrama’s unbeaten 91 steered Sri Lanka to a challenging victory, as they triumphed over a tenacious Dutch side. With this victory, Sri Lanka joined Afghanistan, Netherlands, and Bangladesh with two points from four matches, although they edged ahead of Afghanistan in terms of net run rate.
Chasing a target of 263, Sri Lanka anchored their pursuit around pivotal partnerships. Initially, Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka put on a brisk 30-ball 34, stabilizing the innings after the early dismissal of Kusal Perera. This was followed by significant stands of 52, 77, and 76, with Samarawickrama playing a crucial role.
On a pitch that favoured spinners, Aryan Dutt emerged as the standout Dutch bowler with figures of 3 for 44. Sri Lanka’s seamers, Kasun Rajitha and Dilshan Madushanka, exploited the early swing and scalped four wickets each.
The Dutch side’s total was bolstered by a record 130-run seventh-wicket partnership between Sybrand Engelbrecht and Logan van Beek. Their collaboration steered the Netherlands from a precarious 91 for 6 to 221 for 7. Despite the early exit of captain Scott Edwards, the duo displayed resilience, emphasizing the importance of rebuilding and consolidation.
Their approach was notably cautious. Between the 10th and 30th overs, not a single boundary was hit, maintaining a run rate of around four per over. The intent was clear: bat out the 50 overs and let the total be a reflection of that effort. They managed a commendable total, especially given the dire situation they were in earlier.
The Dutch innings faced a setback in the fourth over, when Rajitha dismissed Vikramjit Singh. Despite an initial partnership, Rajitha made crucial breakthroughs, decimating the top order. The Sri Lankan strategy was evident as Kusal Mendis prolonged Rajitha’s opening spell and introduced Theekshana only in the 16th over.
Edwards contributed a quick 16, but it was the Engelbrecht-van Beek duo that gave the Dutch innings its backbone. Their effort ensured the Netherlands had a fighting chance.
Samarawickrama’s crucial knock ensured Sri Lanka remained steady, unlike their crumbling performance against Australia. After Mendis’s dismissal, Sadeera and Nissanka meticulously crafted their chase. Even after Nissanka’s departure, Sadeera found support in Charith Asalanka and then Dhananjaya de Silva.
Although Dhananjaya was dismissed with just a few runs needed, the result was all but sealed. Dushan Hemantha struck the winning runs, marking the beginning of Sri Lanka’s rejuvenated campaign.