Geelong: Kusal Mendis’ classy half-century helped Sri Lanka in registering a 16-run win in their cut-throat ICC Men’s T20 World Cup clash against the Netherlands here on Thursday.
The Island nation also confirmed their berth in the Super 12 phase as a result of this victory.
The opener smashed 79 from 44 balls to help pace Sri Lanka as the island nation posted 162/6 in ideal batting conditions at Kardinia Park.
It was slow going at first for Sri Lanka in their must-win clash, with the Netherlands’ underrated bowling line-up restricting the Asian side to just 60 runs from the first 10 overs.
But Mendis and Charith Asalanka (31) pressed the accelerator from that point on as Sri Lanka upped the run rate to set the Netherlands a difficult run chase.
Pacer Paul van Meekeren (2/25) was the pick of the bowlers for the Netherlands, while veteran spinner Roelof van der Merwe (0/16) limped from the field late in the innings with what appeared to be an injury.
The Dutch never got going in their chase. They lost their first three wickets for just 47 runs and then kept losing more at regular intervals.
But opening batter Max O’Dowd hung around and tried his best to get Netherlands as close to the target as possible.
O’Dowd remained unbeaten on 71 from 53 deliveries, an innings consisting of six fours and three sixes, as Netherlands reached 146/9 in their full quota of overs.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe was seen limping off the field in pain during the first innings of the match. He didn’t take the field after that and didn’t walk in to bat at his usual position either.
But Van der Merwe battled through pain and walked in to bat as Netherlands’ last wicket in the 18th to reduce the deficit of the loss as much as possible. His brave decision helped his team a lot as he added 23 runs for the last wicket along with O’Dowd.
Netherlands’ chances of qualification to the Super 12 will now depend on the result of the match between Namibia and UAE.
Only a UAE win can help Netherlands in qualifying for the next stage.