Sri Lanka came up with a clinical performance to thump Ireland by 70 runs in match number eight of the T20 World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The Lankans recovered from 8 for 3 to post a challenging 171 for 7, courtesy of fifties from Wanindu Hasaranga (71) and Pathum Nissanka (61).
Maheesh Theekshana (3/17), Lahiru Kumara (2/22) and Chamika Karunaratne (2/27) then strangled Ireland as the chasing side crumbled to 101. Hasaranga made an impact with the ball as well, finishing with superb figures of 1 for 12 from his four overs.
Following the victory, Sri Lanka qualified for the Super 12 stage from Group A. The contest between Namibia and Ireland on Friday will now be a knockout clash. The winner will become the second side from Group A to make it to the Super 12s.
Ireland lost big guns Kevin O’Brien (5) and Paul Stirling (7) cheaply in a challenging chase of 172. While O’Brien top-edged a pull off Karunaratne, Stirling miscued a sweep against Theekshana to short fine leg. Kumara did the juggling act but held on to the ball.
Ireland lost a third inside the powerplay as Gareth Delany’s (2) attempt to cut Hasaranga’s googly ended with his stumps being shattered. Hasaranga could have had a second, but the fielder at short fine leg failed to latch on to a catch offered by Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie off a reverse sweep. The batter celebrated his life by clattering Karunaratne over midwicket for a maximum. However, at the halfway stage, Ireland were very much on the back foot at 65 for 3.
Curtis Campher (24) and Balbirnie resisted briefly but with the required run rate getting out of control, the former was bowled while trying to slog Theekshana. Harry Tector (3) then gloved a short ball from Kumara to the keeper as Ireland lost half of their side for 88. Neil Rock (1) was stumped as he missed his sweep, giving Theekshana his third scalp.
Balbirnie’s resistance came to an end on 41 as he sliced a catch off Kumara to point. Ireland folded up in 18.3 overs as Karunaratne cleaned up Josh Little (1).
Hasaranga and Nissanka’s fifties lift Sri Lanka after top-order collapse
Hasaranga (71 off 47) and Nissanka (61 off 47) played fine knocks as Sri Lanka recovered from 8 for 3 to post a highly competitive 171 for 7. Sent into bat after Ireland won the toss, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera (0), Dinesh Chandimal (6) and Avishka Fernando (0) inside the first two overs. Hasaranga, who was promoted to no.5, then featured in a fourth-wicket stand of 123 with Nissanka to put Sri Lanka on top.
Much like in the previous match against Namibia, Sri Lanka started in a jittery fashion. Perera played a loose stroke off Stirling towards cover, where the fielder dived and took the catch. The decision was referred upstairs but the soft signal of out stood. Little then claimed two wickets off consecutive balls in his first over. Chandimal dragged an ungainly cut onto his stumps while Fernando was cleaned up with a classic swinging delivery that beat him all ends up.
Hasaranga came in with a mission to upset Ireland’s plans and swung into action right away. After creaming Mark Adair for a boundary past mid-on, he whacked off-spinner Simi Singh for four boundaries in the last over of the powerplay. The Sri Lankan all-rounder kept making room to clear his arms and was successful in lofting the deliveries over the infield on the off-side. Hasaranga then slammed Craig Young for six over long-on as the Lankans began taking control of proceedings.
Nissanka, who was content at rotating the strike for most part of the partnership, pulled out a switch hit against Simi Singh as Sri Lanka’s innings approached the halfway stage. A couple of overs later, he clobbered Curtis Campher for a maximum over wide long-on.
Hasaranga brought up his half-century of 38 balls and went on to punish Simi Singh for a couple more boundaries. Immediately after Nissanka reached his fifty, Adair broke the wonderful partnership. He forced Hasaranga to slice a slow yorker to backward point.
Ireland fought back well after the wicket and Nissanka also fell to Little, edging a delivery way outside the off-stump. Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka (21* off 11), however, smashed a few crucial boundaries to take the team past 170.
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Hasaranga and Nissanka rescued Sri Lanka with fine fifties after a precarious start. Hasaranga was among the wickets as well, cleaning up Delany with a googly. He gave away only 12 in his four overs. Theekshana impressed yet again as Ireland failed in their attempt to take him on. He claimed 3 for 17 and pacer Kumara 2 for 22.
For Ireland, Little ended with wonderful figures of 4 for 23. He got the big scalps of Chandimal, Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa to keep his side in the game. On the batting front, skipper Balbirnie fought hard with a well-made 41.
Hasaranga was named Player of the Match for his stupendous all-round show.