Sri Lanka hammers West Indies by 8 wickets ahead of the final
Having already booked their place in the finals of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2023, Sri Lanka made light work of the West Indies as they beat them by 8 wickets at the Harare Sports Club. Maheesh Theekshana with his four-wicket haul and Pathum Nissanka with his third ODI century were the standout players for the Asian side.
With a target of 244 runs in front of them, Sri Lanka made little fuss in the start. Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne stitched a 190-run partnership for the opening wicket – the tournament’s highest so far – but were aided by dropped catches from the West Indies fielders.
The beauty of their partnership lay in the fact that they didn’t try to stroke the ball hard but put enough guile in their strokes to find the gaps. Not a single six was hit in the Sri Lanka innings with Nissanka finding the ropes on 14 occasions and Karunaratne 7 times. Nissanka had 104 runs to his name but Karunaratne fell short of his century by 17 runs.
Their wickets didn’t stop Sri Lanka from their fearless display as Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama held on to their wickets. In the end, Sri Lanka won the game with 8 wickets to spare.
West Indies started the innings on a brisk note. Brandon King and Johnson Charles took special liking against Dilshan Madushanka and Dasun Shanaka as they raced to 36 runs in the first six overs. However, the early introduction of Maheesh Theekshana put their plans to a screeching halt.
King departed at 10 after trying to sweep hard and missing it, thereby knocking off his middle stump. Shamarh Brooks and Shai Hope fell at scores of 2 runs each, the former getting a faint nick to the keeper and the latter getting thudded on the front pad as the ball stayed low. Charles was able to read Theekshana but his knock came to an end after Pathirana trapped him on his legs after the top-order batter mustered 39 runs.
At 81-5 with Nicholas Pooran back in the hut, a score of 200 looked tough. But, Keacy Carty stayed along with the lower-order batters to get through that mark. In particular, Romario Shepherd and Kevin Sinclair were handy in their knocks as they posted 26 and 25 respectively. Dasun Shanaka eventually picked up his wicket at 87 as he fell short of completing his century.
243 runs was all that West Indies could muster as Sri Lanka bagged all the ten wickets of their opposition for the seventh consecutive time in the tournament. The West Indies can take heart from the fact that they were the only team in the Qualifiers to have scored above 200 against the mighty Lankan side.
Sri Lanka will lock horns with the Netherlands in the final on Sunday, hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact and end the Qualifiers on a high note. A Test series against Pakistan awaits them later this month which will see a lot of familiar names turning up in the white shirts.
West Indies will head home where they host India in a two-match Test series. India will be stationed there for a three-match ODI series and five-match T20I series as well. Many thought West Indies couldn’t have gone lower after missing out on the ‘Super 12’ stage of the 2022 ICC World T20 Championship. But, their failure to qualify for the ODI edition of the 2023 ICC ODI World Cup highlights the fact that their glory days are far behind.