The bowlers of Sri Lanka finish the ODI World Cup qualifier with an undefeated record

Dilshan Madushanka scored three consecutive overs with wickets

Even though it was a meaningless game, Sri Lanka managed to make their point. They kept up the pace even after they had already qualified, crushing Netherlands by a margin of 128 runs in the qualifier final. Perhaps motivated by the necessity to qualify for the 2023 ODI World Cup, they did so.

Sri Lanka was in control throughout as their bowlers completely destroyed the Netherlands before the chase had even started, despite a late batting collapse in which they lost their final seven wickets for 53 runs.

The primary reason was Dilshan Madushanka, who took three wickets in the ninth over and was joined by Wanindu Hasaranga, who had two before the end of the 12th over. The innings was then taken up by Maheesh Theekshana, who secured four wickets and bowled out the Netherlands for 105. 

That indicated that Sri Lanka had won the qualification competition without dropping a single game. Naturally, both of the finalists have already earned spots in the ODI World Cup, which will take place in India later this year.

The Netherlands decided to field first once more, still riding high after their thrilling pursuit against Scotland. After a slow start, Vikramjit Singh struck either side of the first powerplay to dismiss both openers, but over the course of the following 13 overs, Kusal Mendis and Sahan Arachchige steadied the innings. 

With little available on the surface for the bowlers, the scoring rate increased along with Sri Lanka’s domination in the game. When Mendis missed a straight one, Netherlands made their breakthrough. The hitters frequently exploited the sweep against the spin spinners, especially leggie Saqib Zulfiqar.

A shocking collapse allowed Netherlands to roar back into the match after Arachchige reached a half-century and Charith Asalanka run-a-ball 36 started to set Sri Lanka up for the finish.

Arachchige’s innings was ended by a brilliant catch by Logan van Beek at point, and two deliveries later, Asalanka was run out. 

Only a cameo from Hasaranga allowed Netherlands to cross 200 after they passed Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva and dragged themselves into Sri Lanka’s tail. But at the very end, a second wave of quick wickets ended the partnership, leaving Netherlands with 234 to chase.

They scored 25 runs in the first 4.3 overs, which was as good as it got for them in the chase. However, the floodgates opened as Vikramjit sliced a straight one to cover-point. 

Wesley Barresi was taken care of by Madushanka before Teja Nidamanuru was cornered in front of Hasaranga. The loss of skipper Scott Edwards to a foolish run-out stunned Netherlands, who were now 49 for 6.

Max O’Dowd persevered valiantly to ensure that the score tipped over the three-figure mark, but Sri Lanka had already eliminated the opposition. After a courageous 36-run partnership with van Beek, Theekshana came back to beat O’Dowd’s outside edge and smash back his off stump. 

The World Cup-bound Netherlands lost for 105 as Theekshana assumed the position of mopper-up, trapping each of the final three in front. This was the first of four such instances.

In a more significant matchup in India, these two teams will rematch, and Edwards will be hoping his team can perform better.

As things stand they will not play a competitive match before that happens. “We’ll go back home and try and put a couple of fixtures together,”

Ryan Cook said.

“They don’t have any at the moment on the international circuit. This is a call out to anyone who wants to play us. We’d love to have a fixture or two. Our guys have not been to the subcontinent many times before. It would be good to have some fixtures somewhere in the subcontinent as well.”

Financial backing, too, was thin on the ground for the men in orange.

“The 50-over World Cup, in particular, presents an opportunity of playing India and other countries in India. That brings a lot of eyeballs to the screens. Hopefully we will be able to pick up a sponsor or two, and bring a bit more revenue into the game. It will take a bit of work from our end, and here’s a full invitation to any sponsors out there who feel like being on the front and the side of the shirt in the World Cup.”

Sri Lanka 233 (Arachchige 57, Mendis 43, Asalanka 36, Vikramjit 2-12) beat Netherlands 105 (O’Dowd 33, Theekshana 4-31, Madushanka 3-18, Hasaranga 2-35) by 128 runs