Sri Lanka players celebrate the fall of a Netherlands’ wicket during their Twenty20 World Cup 2022 match at Kardinia Park in Geelong on Thursday. AFP
Opener Kusal Mendis slammed a 44-ball 79 as Asian champions Sri Lanka beat the Netherlands by 16 runs to sweep into the Super 12 stage of the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.
The world’s eighth-ranked team plundered 162-6, blasting 102 of them off the final 10 overs, to set a big target which the Dutch were unable to reach, finishing on 146-9.
It is the third successive time Sri Lanka have reached the Super 12 and they will be hoping to repeat their heroics from 2014, when Dinesh Chandimal skippered them to the title.
But it was a rocky road to get there, stunned by Namibia in the tournament’s opening game before crushing UAE and now the Netherlands.
“We knew that we could be the number one in this group, but we missed out in the first match,” said Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka.
“The boys have done well though, especially the bowling group. I knew the wicket was two-paced, so we wanted to bowl well in the first 10 overs and then control the game.”
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Sri Lanka started slowly with Pathum Nissanka and Mendis plodding to just 22 off the first five overs.
Nissanka was dropped in the fifth over, but came undone on 14 when hostile pace bowler Paul Van Meekeren returned to the attack and sent down a yorker.
Dhananjaya de Silva followed him back to the pavilion the next ball, out lbw, as Sri Lanka lived dangerously with countless chances falling just short of the fielders.
Charith AsaLanka and Mendis knuckled down in a 60-run stand to step up the run rate before AsaLanka was caught behind off all-rounder Bas de Leede for 31.
Mendis brought up his ninth T20 half-century with a six, then smacked successive sixes in the penultimate over, before he was out going for another boundary, almost carrying his bat.
Despite missing injured pace spearheads Dushmantha Chameera and Pramod Madushan, a Sri Lankan attack with replacements Lahiru Kumara and Binura Fernando kept the Dutch at bay early on.
Opener Vikramjit Singh was out for seven, caught by Shanaka off Maheesh Theekshana, then Kumara got the big wicket of rising star De Leede for 14.
The experienced Colin Ackermann went for a golden duck to the spin of Hasaranga de Silva as the Dutch reached 63-3 at halfway.
Opener Max O’Dowd (71 not out) gamely hung on but when captain Scott Edwards was bowled by Fernando after a quick-fire 21, they slumped from 100-4 to 109-8 and the game was all but over.
“A little unlucky that the chances didn’t go to hand, we let it slip a bit towards the middle and back-end,” said Edwards.