ICC 2021 T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka qualifies for Super 12s after thumping Ireland by 70 runs

Sri Lanka players celebrate a wicket against Ireland

Sri Lanka becomes the first team from Group A to qualify for the Super 12s stage of the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup as the Lankan lions beat Ireland by 70 runs in a rollercoaster match.

After winning the toss, the Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirine chose to field first citing dew as a big factor behind the decision. Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanka named the same 11 players in the playing XI that featured in the win against Namibia a couple of days earlier. The Irish skipper named a single change with fast bowler Craig Young drafted into the playing XI in place of wrist-spinner Benjamin White.

Sri Lanka got off to the worst possible start as they lost 3 wickets in the first 10 balls with Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando recording golden ducks whilst the out-of-form Dinesh Chandimal could only put 6 runs against his name. 

The pair of opening batsman Pathum Nissanka and all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga started the rebuild of the Lankan innings. Hasaranga took spinner Simi Singh for a ride as he scored 4 consecutive boundaries on the off-side in the last over of the powerplay.

Both the batsmen went on to score half centuries before the 123-run partnership between the duo was broken by Mark Adair who dismissed Hasaranga for a score of 71 runs off 47 balls that included 10 boundaries and a solitary maximum. 

With Hasaranga back in the pavilion, Nissanka along with skipper Shanaka guided a few balls to the fence to help his team post a total of 171/7 on the board. Nissanka scored 61 runs off 47 balls smashing 6 boundaries and a solitary maximum whilst Shanka played an unbeaten innings of 21 runs off 11 balls.

Joshua Little was the star bowler for Ireland as his spell of 4/23 from four overs stood out with Mark Adair picking a couple of wickets as well. Last match’s hero Curtis Campher had a bad day in the office as he bowled out his full quota of overs for 0/38 whilst spinner Simi Singh conceded 41 runs in 3 overs.

Also read: Shakib al Hasan powered Bangladesh overcame Oman to stay alive in the ICC 2021 T20 World Cup 

Ireland got off to a similar start as their star opening pair of Paul Stirling and Kevin O Brien returned to the pavilion inside the first 15 balls of the run-chase and Gareth Delaney followed them pretty soon with all three batsmen recording their scores in a single digit. 

Skipper Balbirine and Campher built a 53-run partnership for the fourth wicket but the target proved to be too much as Campher’s dismissal sparked a big parade of Irish batsmen walking back to the pavilion for single-figure scores.

Maheesh Theekshana was the star of the Lankan bowling attack once again as he picked up 3 wickets and was ably supported by Lahiru Kumara and Chamika Karunaratne taking 2 wickets each. Wanindu Hasarang and Dushmantha Chameera took just 1 wicket apiece but their economical bowling helped the bowling effort of the Asian team.

Ireland will now play Namibia in a do-or-die qualifying fixture on Friday whilst Sri Lanka will be looking forward to playing the heavyweights in Australia, England, South Africa, and defending champions West Indies in the Super 12s stage.

Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanka talked about the top-order and fielding woes at the post-match presentation whilst praising all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga for his exploits.

He said,

“We were a bit worried. The top-order has been a little concerning for us. We had a plan before the WC to send Hasaranga up the order. It is a great luxury to have quick pacers. They are accurate as well. Credit to the coaches as well. We need to improve at the top-order and on our fielding as well.”