Dhananjaya, Theekshana help Sri Lanka beat Netherlands in ICC World Cup qualifiers

In an intense Super Six match of the ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers, Sri Lanka secured a narrow 21-run win against the Netherlands at the Bulawayo Sports Club. Dhananjaya de Silva played a crucial innings of 93 runs, while Maheesh Theekshana shone with the ball, finishing with a crucial three-wicket haul.

Sri Lanka struggled early on as the Netherlands’ new-ball bowlers demonstrated discipline and precision, causing their top order to collapse to 96/6 in 25.1 overs. However, Dhananjaya showed grit and adapted to the situation, smashing eight fours and two sixes in his innings of 93 from 111 balls.

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Dhananjaya formed crucial partnerships with Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga, elevating Sri Lanka’s total to 213 runs in 47.4 overs. Defending their score, Sri Lanka took wickets at regular intervals, frustrating the Netherlands’ batting lineup.

Despite captain Scott Edwards’ unbeaten 67-run contribution under pressure, the Netherlands were ultimately bowled out for 192 runs in 40 overs. This result propelled Sri Lanka to the top of the table in the ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers Super Six stage.

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Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. However, opener Pathum Nissanka was dismissed in the very first ball, caught at point by Logan van Beek. Sri Lanka faced further setbacks during the power-play as Ryan Klein dismissed Kusal Mendis for 10 runs, and van Beek removed Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka.

Dimuth Karunaratne attempted to stabilise Sri Lanka’s innings with a partnership of 33 runs alongside Dhananjaya de Silva. However, Karunaratne was caught behind off Saqib Zulfiqar in the 18th over, leaving Sri Lanka struggling at 67/5.

Dhananjaya fought valiantly amidst the collapsing wickets, with Dasun Shanaka falling quickly. He displayed careful shot selection, reaching his 10th ODI half-century. Wanindu Hasaranga provided some support with a couple of big hits but was eventually dismissed lbw by Bas de Leede in the 33rd over.

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Dhananjaya continued to accelerate, smashing a six and two fours in an over from Shariz Ahmad. He guided Sri Lanka’s total beyond the 200-run mark but narrowly missed out on a century, falling seven runs short when Aryan Dutt dismissed him. Sri Lanka was eventually bowled out for 213 runs in the 48th over, marking their second-lowest total against an Associate team.

In response, the Netherlands faced early setbacks in their chase of 214 runs, losing their openers Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd for ducks. Wesley Barresi and Bas de Leede contributed 77 runs for the third wicket, with Barresi completing his 7th ODI fifty during the partnership.

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However, Barresi’s run-out triggered a collapse as Theekshana and Hasaranga struck at regular intervals, putting the Netherlands on the back foot. Captain Scott Edwards fought tenaciously, forming crucial partnerships with the lower order and giving his team a glimmer of hope for a miraculous victory. He remained stranded on 67 not out as the Netherlands lost the ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers match by 21 runs.

Ireland secure six-wicket win over the USA

Meanwhile, Ireland clinched a commanding six-wicket win over the USA in their seventh-place playoff semi-final of the ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers on the same day. Fast bowler Craig Young picked up three wickets, while opener Paul Stirling’s aggression with the bat sawm through to a blazing half century.

The USA’s Saiteja Mukkamalla and Sushant Modani put up a fight, scoring fifties. However, Young’s three-wicket haul, supported by other bowlers, restricted the USA to a total of 196 runs. In response, Stirling dominated the innings, smashing nine fours and two sixes in his 45-ball 58, leading Ireland to victory with 94 balls to spare.

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In the two teams’ first-ever ODI encounter, the USA was made to bat first. Opener Steven Taylor began his innings aggressively but fell victim to Young’s outstanding bowling performance in the seventh over. Young dismissed both Taylor and captain Monank Patel.

Mukkamalla and Modani then formed a solid 88-run partnership before Mukkamalla was run out in the 23rd over, falling short of his crease due to a sharp catch by McBrine. Ireland’s bowlers continued to make inroads into the USA’s lower order, with McBrine, Barry McCarthy, and Mark Adair all claiming wickets, ultimately limiting the USA to a total just below 200 runs.

In pursuit of the target, Stirling and McBrine provided a solid opening partnership of 84 runs off 83 balls, putting Ireland’s chase in a comfortable position. Stirling reached his 28th ODI fifty in the eleventh over, displaying an array of shots, including a reverse sweep for a boundary. Although he was dropped twice, on scores of seven and 27, Stirling continued to dominate the innings.

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Most of Stirling’s boundaries came through the off side, with powerful cover drives and flashing cut strokes behind point. Notably, he hit two remarkable sixes over the legside boundary. However, he was eventually dismissed for 58 runs in the 14th over, trapped lbw while attempting a sweep against Nosthush Kenjige.

Captain Andrew Balbirnie, playing in his 100th ODI, partnered with McBrine for a 39-run stand before McBrine was caught and bowled by Kenjige. Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker contributed 25 runs each before being dismissed. Balbirnie, alongside Curtis Campher, guided Ireland to a ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers win, with the skipper remaining unbeaten on 45 runs.

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