This was the first dead rubber of the World Cup, and aptly enough, Sri Lanka were ruthless with their execution. Seven years after they had skittled Netherlands out for 39, the lowest T20 World Cup total, Sri Lanka condemned the same opposition to the second-lowest total too, running through them for 44 in ten overs.
The chase was more batting practice than anything else, and the top order, which had misfired until now in the tournament, for the first time faced no pressure whatsoever. Even so, Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka fell cheaply, as Sri Lanka still finished the game off in just over seven overs, giving their own confidence a nice fillip ahead of the Super 12s round, they could barely have wished for a smoother evening's work.
There was little of substance to play for as far as Netherlands were concerned, and the moment Dasun Shanaka put them in to bat, Sri Lanka looked like they meant business. Off the fourth ball, when Max O'Dowd set off for a risky single, the captain effected a direct hit at the non-striker's end to send the top-scoring Netherlands batter at the competition back cheaply. From thereon, it was a procession led by carrom-bowling revelation Maheesh Theekshana
and legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga
Theekshana sent Ben Cooper and Stephan Myburgh back to the pavilion after rattling their middle stumps with carrom balls neither could read, while Hasaranga honed in on the pads with wrong'uns that appeared impossible for the opposition to pick. Colin Ackermann, Bas de Leede and Pieter Seelaar all failed to get their pads out of the way of the googly, and by the time a remarkable powerplay concluded, Netherlands were reduced to 37 for 6.
As if that wasn't destructive enough, Sri Lanka brought back Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara
for the lower order to face deliveries regularly north of 145kph. One struck Scott Edwards on the head that brought the physio out for a concussion test, before Kumara put him out of his misery by pitching one up into his pads. It began an over that saw him remove the final three Netherlands batters inside six balls to put paid to the innings inside ten overs, and set his batters up with a canter of a chase.
Sri Lanka stroll
Ideally, Sri Lanka would have wished to see the top order run this down without the loss of a wicket to assuage concerns about an underperforming top order. However, Nissanka holed out at mid-off for a duck, while Asalanka couldn't take advantage of his opportunity at No. 3. But Sri Lanka were in little hurry to force the issue, running the target down at a canter.
had time enough for a cameo that should help his confidence deeper into the tournament, an unbeaten 33 off 24 balls offering a glimpse of his belligerence in the top order. Avishka Fernando knocked off the winning runs, but for Sri Lanka today, it was all about the bowling.