Sri Lanka’s impressive win against Zimbabwe ensured their inclusion in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. In the second match of the day, Nepal fell short of the target of 182 runs against the United Arab Emirates.
Putting up a magnificent performance on the field, Sri Lanka marched towards victory against Zimbabwe, winning by nine wickets. This victory propels them to the top of the Super Sixes table and guarantees their place among the top two teams at the end of this stage. Consequently, they have qualified for the World Cup scheduled to be held in India later this year.
Sri Lanka has not scored more than 200 runs in this tournament so far.
In Harare, Muhammad Jawadullah, Junaid Siddique, and Sanchit Sharma bowled Nepal’s first team back to the pavilion within 20 overs. In the first innings, Sandeep Lamichhane (3/23) and Karan KC (3/36) led the charge for Nepal, as the subcontinent team restricted the UAE to a modest score.
It was as if Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne stepped onto a different deck to bat, facing some difficulties during their innings. The only real opportunity for Karunaratne was when he flicked a delivery from Richard Ngarava towards mid-wicket, where Zimbabwe’s captain Craig Ervine made a catch. Otherwise, the opening partnership blossomed with boundaries scattered in all directions.
Nissanka, in particular, appeared in an aggressive mood and hit eight fours during his brilliant century. This was his third century in the qualifiers.
Both Nissanka and Karunaratne contributed to Sri Lanka crossing the 100-run mark in the 19th over. Soon after, Ngarava took the wicket of Karunaratne, giving Zimbabwean fans a moment to celebrate. However, it was a little too late and too little for Sri Lanka as they had already gained control of the game by the 34th over, with Zimbabwe’s score in check.
Nissanka also completed his second century in One Day Internationals with this victory.
Prior to this, the crowd, who had been celebrating on Sunday after Zimbabwe lost their top order in the powerplay overs, had gone silent. Dilshan Madushanka was the beneficiary on all three occasions. Perhaps the biggest success for the subcontinent team was the wicket of captain Craig Ervine, who was dismissed behind the stumps in the seventh over.
In the ninth over, Sri Lanka had the chance to dismiss the dangerous Sean Williams off Madushanka’s delivery. However, when Mathisha Pathirana offered a direct opportunity at fine leg, Southee was spared.
Williams and Sikandar Raza weathered the storm and increased the scoring rate. Raza, in particular, played several exquisite strokes after a cautious start. By the 18th over, they were comfortably moving ahead at a rate of five runs per over.
Dasun Shanaka provided Sri Lanka with an early breakthrough by dismissing Raza in the 20th over. However, Zimbabwe responds to fire with fire. The incoming Ryan Burl and Williams initiated a cruel hitting spree in the coming overs. The latter also completed his half-century in this period, which was his fifth score of fifty or more during this phase of play.
However, in the 23rd over, Williams had a stroke of bad luck when Mahesh Theekshana clean bowled him for 56 runs. After that, the off-spinner also dismissed Burl in the 25th over, putting Sri Lanka on top.
The Sri Lankan bowlers did not let the pressure ease and continued their efforts to take wickets. Zimbabwe could only manage to add 35 runs in the middle of their innings.
Dasun Shanaka won the toss and decided to take the field. He stated that the team would try to make the most of the first 10 overs with the ball. Madushanka (3/15), Pathirana (2/18), and Theekshana (4/25) were the stars with the ball for Sri Lanka.
Due to an injury, Lahiru Kumara had to be sidelined from the tournament. His absence was filled by Mathisha Pathirana in the XI. Craig Ervine was brought in for Tendai Chatara, with Brad Evans joining the team.