Bulawayo July 2 2023: Sri Lanka's emphatic win over Zimbabwe ensures that they'll feature in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023. In the other contest, Dipendra Singh Airee helped Nepal to a gutsy win over UAE.
Sri Lanka rendered a flawless display on the field to cruise towards a nine-wicket win over Zimbabwe. This win helps them to the top of the Super Six table, and ensures that they'll remain among the top two sides at the end of this stage. Hence, they've qualified for the World Cup in India later this year.
So far, Sri Lanka haven't conceded a single total in excess of 200 in this tournament.
At Harare, under Airee's guidance, the Nepal lower-order helped them to a surprise three wicket win. Things seemed dire for the team at 63/6, but Nepal fought their way back in style. In the first innings, Sandeep Lamichhane (3/23) and Karan KC (3/36) led the Nepal charge, as the sub-continental side bowled out UAE for a modest total.
It was as if Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne walked out to bat on a different deck, and faced little difficulties while batting. The only real chance was a Karunaratne flick off Richard Ngarava toward mid-wicket, where the Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine shelled it. Otherwise the left-right opening combination thrived in Bulawayo.
Nissanka looked in particularly aggressive mood, and hit eight fours on the way to his half-century. This was his third fifty of the Qualifier.
The duo helped Sri Lanka reach the 100 run mark in the 19th over. Soon after Ngarava gave the Zimbabwe fans something to cheer about with Karunaratne's wicket. However, it was a case of too little and too late, as Sri Lanka overhauled the Zimbabwe total in the 34th over.
Nissanka also brought up his second ODI hundred in this win.
Earlier, a festive Sunday crowd was quietened after Zimbabwe lost their top-order in the powerplay overs. Dilshan Madushanka was the beneficiary on all three occasions. Perhaps, the biggest success for the sub-continental side was the wicket of skipper Craig Ervine, who nicked one behind the stumps in the seventh over.
Sri Lanka could've even accounted for the dangerous Sean Williams off Madushanka's bowling in the ninth over. But the Southpaw survived when Matheesha Pathirana shelled a straightforward chance at fine leg.
Williams and Sikandar Raza soaked in the pressure and upped the scoring rate. Raza, in particular, went for a number of exquisite stroke after a conservative start. By the 18th over, the Chevrons were comfortably going at five runs an over.
Dasun Shanaka gave Sri Lanka an opening with Raza's wicket in the 20th over. However, Zimbabwe respond fire with fire. Incoming Ryan Burl and Williams unleashed a series of brutal hits in the upcoming overs. The latter also brought up his fifty in this period of play, his fifth fifty-plus score in this period.
However, Williams' luck ran out in the 23rd over, when he was cleaned up by Maheesh Theekshana for 56. The off-spinner then also accounted for Burl in the 25th over to put Sri Lanka on top.
Sri Lanka bowlers didn't let up the pressure and continued going for wickets. Zimbabwe's tailenders could only add 35 runs from the mid-innings mark.
Dasun Shanaka won the toss and elected to take the field. He stated that the side would look to take advantage with the ball in the first 10 overs. Madushanka (3/15), Pathirana (2/18) and Theekshana (4/25) were the Sri Lanka stars with the ball.
Injury forced Lahiru Kumara out of the tournament. His absence was filled by Matheesha Pathirana in the XI. Craig Ervine brought in Brad Evans for Tendai Chatara.