Hasaranga, Nissanka, Theekshana take Sri Lanka to Super 12, Ireland to face Namibia next
Sri Lanka 171 for 7 in 20 overs (Wanindu Hasaranga 71, Pathum Nissanka 61; Joshua Little 4/23) beat Ireland 101 all-out (Andrew Balbirnie 41, Curtis Campher 24; Theekshana 3/17)
Sri Lanka and Ireland clashed against each other in the eighth game of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 on Wednesday. Both the sides came into the game after registering wins in their respective last games.
Their clash took place at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi where Ireland won the toss and opted to bowl first.
Ireland strike early, spoil Sri Lanka’s hopes of a good start
Put into bat first, Sri Lanka got off to a disappointing start, having lost the opener Kusal Perera for a duck off Paul Stirling’s delivery. Perera’s poor run in the T20Is continued as he lofted the ball through the covers, only to get caught by Gareth Delany.
With two new batters in the middle, Sri Lanka looked to get a good start, however, they were overwhelmed by Joshua Little’s spell in the subsequent overs.
Joshua Little came in the 2nd over and clean bowled Dinesh Chandimal to celebrate his first wicket of the match. He then followed it up with yet another peach of a delivery to send Avishka Fernando back to the pavilion for a duck. By this time, Sri Lanka were struggling at 8/3 in just 2 overs.
Wanindu Hasaranga, Pathum Nissanka build 123-run partnership
It was not too late for Sri Lanka to get back into the game when Wanindu Hasaranga came into bat and took some time to settle. As soon as he settled in the middle, he put out some classic strokes, especially in the 6th over wherein he smacked four consecutive boundaries and eased off some pressure for his side.
On the other hand, Pathum Nissanka kept patience early on in the innings and started to play some cracking shots and got the momentum up for the side.
Barring the nightmarish start to their innings, both the Sri Lankan batters put a strong comeback and weaved a brilliant partnership of 123 runs. Hasaranga reached his half maiden half-century with a couple of runs in the 13th over. He went on to score his T20I career-best 71 runs before getting caught by Craig Young at short third man off Mark Adair’s delivery.
Sri Lanka’s second highest run-scorer in this match, Pathum Nissanka, too departed shortly after Hasaranga’s dismissal for 61 runs. Although, by that time, Sri Lanka had already scored 150+ runs and skipper Dasun Shanaka in his 11-ball cameo scored 22 runs, to take the team total to 171/7 wickets in 20 overs.
Joshua Little chipped in with four wickets including the crucial wickets of Dinesh Chandimal and Avishka Fernando. He also added Nissanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s wickets under his belt. Other Ireland bowlers who chipped in with wickets were Mark Adair (2/35) and Paul Stirling (1/4) in their respective spells.
Sri Lanka strike early, push Ireland on backseat
Chasing 172 runs, Ireland too lost early wickets as opener Kevin O’Brien departed for 5 runs in the first over. Maheesh Theekshana continued with his stellar bowling performance as he took off from where he had left in the last game and dismissed Paul Stirling for 7 runs in the 3rd over.
The third blow to Ireland came shortly afterwards with Waninudu Hasaranga showing his prowess with the ball after an exemplary batting display. He dismissed Gerath Delany (2 runs off 4 balls) with a beautiful low-pitched googly and also got the third breakthrough for his team.
However, Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie stayed firm in the middle and kept accelerating the scoreboard while the side struggled to find a good partnership. Unfortunately, Balbirnie couldn’t run the one-man crusade for long and eventually fell at 41 runs off 39 deliveries.
Ireland batters could barely put up a fight as the Sri Lankan bowlers continued to wreak damage by taking regular wickets. Theekshana led the whole bowling unit as he again picked three wickets like the last game and ended with 3/18 in Wednesday’s game.
Apart from Theekshana, the likes of Chamika Karunaratne (2/27) and Lahiru Kumara (2/22) too joined the wagon and restricted Ireland to a total of 101 runs in 18.3 overs.
Sri Lanka scripted their second win by 70 runs in Round 1. Although, Sri Lanka’s gamut of fielding didn’t fair well, the bowlers ensured a remarkable victory and enhanced their net run-rate.
Player of the Match
Wanindu Hasaranga, undoubtedly became the player of the match owing to his exemplary contribution with both bat and ball. He orchestrated the win right from the first innings by smacking 71 runs followed by taking a crucial wicket of Gareth Delany in his miserly spell (1/12) in four overs.
With this win, Sri Lanka are now through to the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021. On the other hand, Ireland can’t afford a defeat in the next game when they face Namibia on Friday.