Theekshana, Lahiru Kumara and Hasaranga shine for Sri Lanka in first round against Namibia
Sri Lanka 100 for 3 (Rajapaksa 42*, Fernando 30*) beat Namibia 96 (Craig Williams 29, Theekshana 3/25, Kumara 2/9) by seven wickets
The Round 1 game of Group A of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2021 saw a clash between Sri Lanka and Namibia at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday.
After winning the toss, Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka opted to bowl first against the T20 World Cup debutant Namibia.
Namibia lose both openers early on
The Namibian side boasts of some good power-hitters but they did not get off to a good start as both the openers Stephan Baard (7 runs off 11 balls) and Zane Green (8 runs off 13 deliveries) got out cheaply.
Both the openers seemed to struggle against the spin-web weaved by the in-form Maheesh Theekshana. It was evident from the very first ball of the 3rd over when Shanaka introduced Theekshana and the latter got Baard caught at long on for his first wicket. The ploy of bringing Theekshana again turned useful for the Sri Lankan skipper as he removed Green for a meagre eight runs, while Namibia struggled at 29/2.
The next two batters in the Namibia line-up including skipper Gerhard Erasmus and Craig Williams came in and steadied the innings. The duo played slow and showed signs of resilience against the Sri Lankan bowling unit. They stitched a 49-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Erasmus falls despite starting positively
Erasmus showed mettle of a captain early on in his innings by whipping two back-to-back balls towards the boundary in Hasaranga’s over. He looked in fine touch and was also blessed by luck as he survived an LBW appeal off Lahiru Kumara’s delivery.
However, shortly after surviving the LBW appeal, Erasmus subsequently became Kumara’s victim and got out on 20 runs. In an attempt to go big, he hit the ball only to get caught near long on by Hasaranga. At that moment, Namibia were reeling at 68/3 after 12.2 overs.
Namibian batters didn’t seem to recover from the pressure mounted by the Sri Lankan bowlers and got all out on 96 runs in 19.3 overs. The might of the Sri Lankan bowlers was displayed on the big stage by Theekshana who finished with 3/25, followed by Lahiru Kumara (2/9) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2/24) chipping in with a couple of wickets each.
Sri Lanka off to a shaky start
Chasing a low-total of 97 runs, Sri Lanka too lost two early wickets in the form of both openers Pathum Nissanka (5 runs off 6 balls) and Kusal Perera (11 runs off 8 balls). Ruben Trumpelmann provided the first breakthrough for his side with a slower delivery and got Perera caught at mid-off in the 2nd over.
A few moments later Scholtz provided the second breakthrough with a brilliant delivery drifting towards Nissanka’s pads and got him trapped in front of the wickets. Sri Lanka lost the only review they took during the innings as they reeled at 18/2 in 3 overs.
However, the three-time finalists and one-time champions looked undeterred with Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa out in the middle and they did assure the run-flow. Avishka, with an unbeaten 30* runs off 28 balls, hit two sixes in his steady innings, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa too remained unbeaten on 42* runs off 27 balls. The duo combined in a partnership of 74 runs to seal the win for their side in 13.2 overs and 7 wickets in hand.
Man of the match
The 21-year-old Theekshana stole the limelight of the game with a brilliant and miserly spell of 4/25. He cleaned both the Namibian openers and Jan Frylinck (2) cheaply and kept Sri Lanka in the driver’s seat and in complete control of the game. Although other Sri Lankan bowlers also kept it tight throughout in what looked like a one-sided affair from the beginning.
With this win, Sri Lanka now gear to face Ireland at the same venue in their second first round match on October 20. While Namibia, with this loss, will now be aiming for a comprehensive win against Netherlands on October 20.