Sri Lanka 263 for 5 (Samarawickrama 91, Nissanka 54, Dutt 3-44) beat Netherlands 262 (Engelbrecht 70, van Beek 59, Madushanka 4-49, Rajitha 4-50) by five wickets
Set a target of 263, the chase was built around key partnerships – the first a counter-attacking 30-ball 34 between Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka, to recover from the early loss of Kusal Perera, followed by more substantial stands of 52, 77 and 76 – with Samarawickrama a key cog throughout.
Indeed, for the second game running Netherlands lower order were called in for a rescue job and for the second game running they delivered. And this time it was arguably more impressive than the one against South Africa, as they managed it without any significant input from talismanic captain Scott Edwards, who had dragged one on from Maheesh Theekshana early in his innings.
At that point Sri Lanka might have felt the danger man was back in the pavilion, but Engelbrecht and van Beek took centre stage as they took their side from 91 for 6 to 221 for 7.
Engelbrecht eventually fell looking to play a premeditated shot, though probably ill-advised paddle against a Dilshan Madushanka yorker that homed in on the base of middle stump, but van Beek hung around for a while longer to take the total to a competitive if not matchwinning 262.
But in between the wickets of Edwards and Engelbrecht was where Netherlands showcased a masterclass in rebuilding and consolidation.
Even when they sought to up the scoring it was incremental rather than explosive, with boundaries never paired in a single over, instead spread out between overs that were largely littered with ones and twos.
Indeed following the scale of the top order collapse, for the Dutch batting out the full 50 overs was the primary goal, with the end total a byproduct of that singular focus. Even so, getting to as competitive a total as they did was no mean feat considering the malaise they had found themselves in with less than half the innings played.
The trouble began in the fourth over, when Rajitha trapped Vikramjit Singh leg before with one that pitched on middle and tailed in. It was the first ball Rajitha had bowled to the left-hander, but the wicket itself was a just reward for the nagging lines and lengths both he and Madushanka had exploited in the early overs.
Despite this early loss though, the pair of Max O’Dowd and Colin Ackermann looked to be working their way into the game with a stand of 41 before Rajitha struck for a second time, as O’Dowd dragged a full and wide outswinger onto his stumps. Two overs later Rajitha would have his third, with Ackermann nicking through a loose cut.
Suddenly the Dutch were on the ropes, as the scoring slowed down to a crawl. Kusal Mendis decided to press home the advantage at this point keeping Rajitha for an extended seven-over opening spell and delaying the introduction of Theekshana until the 16th over.
After a couple of Chamika Karunaratne overs had afforded Madushanka a rest, the left-arm seamer was brought back in the 17th and would strike almost immediately, as de Leede would ramp a short one to Kusal Perera at third man. Then in his next over he would have half the Netherlands back in the pavilion, trapping Teja Nidamanuru leg before on referral.
Edwards in his brief stay was his industrious self picking up five twos in a run-a-ball 16 but Theekshana sent him packing. But Sri Lanka would have no more joy after that until death, but by then Netherlands had done enough to make a game of it.
Samarawickrama played the crucial hand and ensured Sri Lanka did not fall apart as they had so devastatingly done against Australia. Entering at the fall of Mendis’s wicket – the Sri Lankan captain falling foul of Dutt as he could only top edge a slog sweep – Sadeera and Nissanka set about in a controlled pursuit.
Nissanka fell after picking up his third successive fifty, but Sadeera continued in the same vein with Charith Asalanka. And when Asalanka fell, going for an unnecessary slog sweep in Dutt’s final over, Sadeera repeated the feat with another solid stand alongside Dhananjaya de Silva.
Dhananjaya fell with single digits required, but by then the game was done. Dushan Hemantha heaved a four over long-on to register the winning runs and kickstart Sri Lanka’s campaign.
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