Sri Lanka can rely on their top batters and bowlers, while Netherlands will turn to their proven match-winners when the two teams meet in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier at Harare Sports Club on Sunday. Sri Lanka and Netherlands have secured their spots in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, to be held in India later this year. However, neither side would want to end their time in Zimbabwe with a loss.
Sri Lanka has remained undefeated throughout the qualifiers. Spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana have been instrumental, ranking as the top two wicket-takers in the tournament. Hasaranga leads with 20 wickets, with three consecutive five-wicket hauls, equalling the ODI record held by Pakistan’s Waqar Younis. Despite missing the last Super Six clash against West Indies, he is on track to become the leading wicket-taker of the tournament. He achieved the feat in the ICC T20 World Cup events in 2021 and 2022.
Theekshana impressed in Hasaranga’s absence, taking 4/34 against West Indies and has formed a strong partnership with his fellow spinner, claiming 16 wickets at an impressive average of 10 in Sri Lanka’s past five ODIs. With the two leading the attack, Sri Lanka has restricted all teams, except West Indies, to totals under 200 in seven matches at the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifiers.
Openers Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne have played crucial roles with the bat. Nissanka has consecutive centuries, in addition to his earlier half-centuries, accumulating a total of 394 runs in the tournament.
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Karunaratne, on the other hand, has a century and three half-centuries to his credit, contributing 369 runs. Except for the match against Netherlands, their opening partnerships have laid a strong foundation for Sri Lanka’s success, averaging 114 runs per partnership. They even achieved an unbeaten 100-run partnership in a dominant 10-wicket victory over Oman. The only time they didn’t perform well was when Nissanka was dismissed by Logan van Beek with the first ball of the match against Netherlands.
Sri Lanka’s results in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier have been comprehensive. They secured 10-wicket wins over Oman, nine-wicket wins over Zimbabwe, and eight-wicket wins over West Indies. In terms of runs, their winning margins included 175 against UAE, 133 against Ireland, and 82 against Scotland. The closest Sri Lanka came to a challenge was when Netherlands reached 127/4 while chasing a modest target of 214. However, Netherlands then collapsed to 6/65, falling short by 21 runs.
While Sri Lanka possesses outstanding batsmen and bowlers, Netherlands has seen contributions from multiple players throughout the Cricket World Cup Qualifier. Scott Edwards, Vikramjit Singh, Max O’Dowd, Wesley Barresi, and Teja Nidamanuru have all scored multiple scores beyond 50 in the tournament. Bas de Leede became only the fifth player to score a century and take five wickets in an ODI, securing Netherlands’ spot in the Cricket World Cup against Scotland. He is also the team’s leading wicket-taker in the tournament and has delivered during the death overs.
Additionally, Netherlands can rely on Logan van Beek, particularly after his impressive performance in the Super Over against West Indies, where he scored 30 runs to secure crucial Super Six points.
With Sri Lanka and Netherlands already guaranteed their places in the Cricket World Cup, the CWC23 Qualifier final will serve as a test between consistency and brilliance, as both teams look ahead to the main event in India later this year.