Spinner Maheesh Theekshana’s four wickets along with Pathum Nissanka’s outstanding third ODI century led Sri Lanka to an eight-wicket win over West Indies in their ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 Super Six match at Harare Sports Club.
Opening batsmen Pathum Nissanka (104) and Dimuth Karunaratne (83) played pivotal roles in chasing down the target of 243 after Keacy Carty’s (87) valiant effort had set a respectable total for the Windies.
With this victory, Sri Lanka remains unbeaten in the Qualifiers and enters the final as the favorites against the Netherlands, which will be played on Sunday. Both Sri Lanka and the Netherlands have already secured their main prize, a place in the Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India next October, but neither team wants to conclude their time in Zimbabwe with a defeat.
Chasing a target of 244, Sri Lanka got off to a blazing start as Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne forged an imposing 190-run opening partnership that firmly put the game out of reach for the West Indies.
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Kusal Mendis (34) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (17) completed the task comfortably, guiding Sri Lanka to their target of 244. This achievement was made possible by Keacy Carty’s valuable innings of 87, after Maheesh Theekshana (4/34) had dismantled much of the Windies’ top order.
Sent in to bat first, the West Indies made a strong start, racing to 31 runs in their first four overs. However, Theekshana conceded just two runs in his first over and dismissed Brandon King (10) in his second.
The spinner struck again in his third over, getting Shamarh Brooks (2) caught behind, followed by captain Shai Hope (2) being trapped leg before wicket, making Theekshana the destroyer of the West Indies’ top order.
Opener Johnson Charles (39) fell shortly after, trapped leg before wicket by Matheesha Pathirana, leaving the West Indies struggling at 62 for four. However, Carty and Nicholas Pooran (14) led a fightback, halting the fall of wickets until Dushan Hemantha removed Pooran, deepening the Windies’ predicament at 81 for five.
Carty, who had survived a dropped catch on nine, kept the scoreboard ticking and took his team to 123 for seven by the time Sahan Arachchige bowled Kyle Mayers (18) and Hemantha trapped Roston Chase (1) leg before wicket.
Late contributions from Romario Shepherd (26) and Kevin Sinclair (25) propelled the Windies towards 250 before Carty fell 12 balls from the end, leaving his side all out for 243.
In response, Sri Lanka began their chase aggressively, reaching 50 runs inside nine overs, with Nissanka achieving his 10th ODI half-century in as many deliveries in the 16th over.
Opening partner Karunaratne soon followed suit, reaching his half-century with a boundary as Sri Lanka comfortably approached their target. Despite the West Indies’ determined efforts to break the partnership, utilizing six bowlers in search of a breakthrough, Nissanka and Karunaratne proved impenetrable, bringing up the 150-run partnership in the 28th over.
Nissanka then completed his century with nearly 20 overs remaining before eventually being caught out at mid-wicket off the bowling of Kevin Sinclair. However, the fall of the first wicket did not halt the scoring rate as Mendis took charge, reaching the 200-run mark with a boundary before Karunaratne was trapped leg before wicket by Akeal Hosein.
Mendis and Samarawickrama then guided the chase to its conclusion with 34 balls to spare, securing Sri Lanka’s unbeaten record as they enter Sunday’s final.