Sri Lanka secure place in Super Six stage of 2023 ODI World Cup qualifiers

Sri Lanka secured their place in the 2023 ODI World Cup with a nine-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the Super Six stage of the qualifying tournament. The match saw Maheesh Theekshana take four wickets, and Pathum Nissanka score an unbeaten century.

Choosing to bowl first, Sri Lanka continued their record of not conceding more than 200 runs in the tournament. Off spinner Theekshana was the standout performer with figures of 4-25. He was supported by a fiery opening spell by left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka, who took 3-15. Their exceptional bowling efforts bowled Zimbabwe out for just 165 runs.

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Chasing a modest target of 166, Nissanka took charge and displayed aggression. He smashed 14 fours in his unbeaten innings of 101 off 102 balls. He received contributions from Dimuth Karunaratne (30) and Kusal Mendis (25 not out), allowing Sri Lanka to comfortably reach the target with nine wickets in hand and 101 balls remaining.

In addition to securing their position at the top of the Super Six table, this win guarantees Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup champions, a place among the top two teams at the end of this stage, thus ensuring their qualification for the ODI World Cup scheduled to be held in India from October 5 to November 19.

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

Zimbabwe must win their Super Six match against Scotland at the same venue on Tuesday. Doing so will earn them the final spot in the ODI World Cup. Zimbabwe lost their top-order batsmen within the first 10 overs. Madushanka caused havoc, dismissing Joylord Gumbie with a nick to second slip, Wesley Madhevere with a miscued pull to mid-off, and skipper Craig Ervine with a nick behind the stumps in the seventh over.

Sri Lanka had an opportunity to dismiss the in-form Sean Williams off Madushanka’s bowling in the ninth over, but Matheesha Pathirana dropped a straightforward catch at fine leg. Williams and Sikandar Raza absorbed the pressure and increased the scoring rate during their crucial 68-run partnership.

Raza, in particular, played an array of elegant strokes after a cautious start. However, Sri Lanka’s captain Dasun Shanaka provided an opening for his team by dismissing Raza, who hooked the ball to the long leg in the 20th over. Ryan Burl and Williams then unleashed a series of powerful shots in the following overs.

Read More: Sean Williams smashes hundred as Zimbabwe beat Oman by 14 runs in ICC World Cup qualifier

Williams reached his half-century during this period, marking his fifth score of fifty or more in the competition. However, his luck ran out in the 23rd over when Theekshana bowled him out for 56 runs. Zimbabwe managed to keep Wanindu Hasaranga at bay, but they struggled to handle the spin and accuracy of Theekshana.

Theekshana further put Sri Lanka in a commanding position by dismissing Burl in the 25th over. The Sri Lankan bowlers maintained the pressure on Zimbabwe, consistently taking wickets. Pathirana claimed the last three wickets, limiting the hosts’ tailenders to only 35 runs from the halfway point of their innings.

Read More: Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe head into ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 Qualifier Super 6 as toppers

In response, Sri Lanka faced little difficulty in their chase. The only real opportunity for Zimbabwe to defend their small total came when Karunaratne flicked a ball from Richard Ngarava towards mid-wicket, but Ervine dropped the catch.

Nissanka played with aggression, punishing any loose deliveries and reaching his fifty with eight fours. The partnership between Nissanka and Karunaratne guided Sri Lanka past the 100-run mark in the 19th over. Although Zimbabwe managed to dismiss Karunaratne, it was too little and too late. Sri Lanka comfortably surpassed Zimbabwe’s total in the 34th over. Nissanka reached his second ODI hundred smashing a full toss from Wellington Masakadza over mid-wicket for four.

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Nepal secure three-wicket win over UAE

Dipendra Singh Airee scored an unbeaten 79 off only 85 deliveries, to guide Nepal to a narrow three-wicket win against UAE in the semifinal of the seventh-place play-off in the ICC ODI World Cup Qualifiers at the Takashinga Sports Club.

Sandeep Lamichhane took 3-23, while Karan KC finished with figures of 3-36. The two led the bowling attack for Nepal, dismissing the UAE for a meagre 181 in 46.5 overs. Nepal’s innings started poorly, finding themselves in a precarious position at 63/6, and later at 103/7.

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The 182 run target looked challenging at 63/6, but Airee’s unbeaten knock of 79 revived Nepal’s hopes. He first shared a crucial 44-run partnership with Gulsan Jha (12) and then formed an unbeaten match-turning stand of 79 runs with Lamichhane. This partnership propelled Nepal to a remarkable comeback victory, which they achieved in the 44th over.

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