12/04/2022
Kusal Mendis proved to be the difference between the two sides as Max ODowd waged a lone battle which just was not enough for the Dutch as Sri Lanka beat the Netherlands by 16 runs in their last Group A encounter at the Geelong, Australia in the round 1 of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 to enter the Super 12 phase.

After suffering a shock loss to Namibia in their opening game, the Asian champions got their campaign back on track with back-to-back wins in the ICC marquee event Down Under.

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In a must-win game for both the teams, Dasun Shanka opted to bat first after winning the toss at the Simonds Stadium in Geelong.

Mendis made a brisk 79 off 44 balls to help his team register to a moderate score of 162 for six.

In reply, O’Dowd waged a lone battle with an unbeaten 73 off 53 balls as the Dutch fell short by 16 runs.

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Minnows Namibia had stunned Sri Lanka in their Group opener before the Lankan Lions brought their campaign back with a win against the UAE to bring their ICC T20 World Cup 2022 campaign back on track.

It is the third successive time Sri Lanka have reached the Super 12 and they will be hoping to repeat their heroics from 2014, when Dinesh Chandimal skippered them to the title.

But it was a rocky road to get there though.

After taking first use of the wicket, Lanka started slowly with Pathum Nissanka and Mendis plodding to just 22 off the first five overs.

Nissanka was dropped in the fifth over, and came undone on 14 when hostile pace bowler Paul Van Meekeren returned to the attack and sent down a yorker.

Dhananjaya de Silva followed him back to pavilion the next ball, out lbw, as Sri Lanka lived dangerously with countless chances falling just short of the fielders.

Charith Asalanka and Mendis knuckled down in a 60-run stand to step up the run rate before Asalanka was caught behind off all-rounder Bas de Leede for 31.

Kusal Mendis played a match-refining knock.

Mendis brought up his ninth T20 half-century with a six then smacked successive sixes in the penultimate over before he was out going for another boundary, almost carrying his bat.

Despite missing injured pace spearheads Dushmantha Chameera and Pramod Madushan, a Sri Lankan attack with replacements Lahiru Kumara and Binura Fernando kept the Dutch at bay in the opening overs.

Opener Vikramjit Singh was out for seven, caught by Dusan Shanaka off Maheesh Theekshana then Kumara got the big wicket of rising star De Leede for 14.

The experienced Colin Ackermann went for a golden duck to the spin of Hasaranga de Silva as they reached 63-3 at halfway.

Opener O’Dowd gamely hung on but when captain Scott Edwards was bowled by Fernando after a quick-fire 21 they slumped from 100 for four to 109 for eight and the game was all-but over.

The world’s eighth-ranked team blasted 102 from the final 10 overs and in the hindsight, that proved to be the clinching factor.