Sri Lanka outclass the Netherlands as both head home

It was, after all, Sri Lanka who ended their T20 World Cup campaign on a high at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Sunday evening, and a hard-working but ultimately disappointing Dutch side which had to accept another defeat by a side which was ultimately just too strong.

That was not to say that Scott Edwards’ team did not have their moments: another piece of excellent planning saw Viv Kingma strike in the first over, Pathum Nissanka falling into a carefully-laid trap and slicing him to Sybrand Engelbrecht, who took another outstanding catch, and then, chasing a massive 202 for victory, Michael Levitt and Max O’Dowd hammered 45 off 28 deliveries to raise their side’s hopes.

As Edwards won the toss and put Sri Lanka in, Nepal were threatening to do the Dutch a favour, having reduced Bangladesh to 52 for five in St Vincent; a big enough Netherlands victory here, coupled with defeat for Bangladesh, would see the Dutch squeeze past the Tigers and into the Super Eights.

But the Sri Lankans recovered quickly from the early loss of Nissanka, Kusal Mendis hitting a 29-ball 46 and Dhananjaya de Silva 34 from 26 deliveries, and the Dutch bowlers, operating on a pitch which was much friendlier to the batters, were unable to stanch the flow of boundaries.

On 74 for two at the halfway mark, Sri Lanka now started to pile on the runs despite the loss of Kusal, caught by Engelbrecht off Aryan Dutt, and once Angelo Mathews joined Charith Asalanka they hit top gear, 77 coming from the last five overs, including seven sixes.

Asalanka hit five of them, his 46 coming from just 21 deliveries, while Mathews’ unbeaten 30 needed only 15.

The Dutch bowling figures had a nightmare quality, apart from those of Kingma and Dutt, both of whom finished with one for 23 from three overs.

By the time Levitt and O’Dowd came out to begin the Dutch reply Bangladesh had recovered somewhat to post 106, and now the Nepalese innings was starting to implode.

Still, the manner of that opening stand gave rise to hopes that on this track a successful chase might be possible.

But when O’Dowd fell to Nuwan Thushara and Levitt was caught behind off Maheesh Theekshana in the following over another collapse ensued, four more wickets falling in four overs for the addition of just 24 runs.

With Thushara and Matheesha Pathirana performing their Malinga tribute act to great effect, Pathirana repeatedly deploying yorkers at 150 km/h plus, and Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga displaying their all-too-familiar wiles, the Dutch had no answer, and although Edwards contributed a 24-ball 31 it was in a patently losing cause.

Meantime, Bangladesh had dismissed Nepal for 85, so even a Dutch win here would have made no difference to the table.

After the highs of Adelaide and India this had been a disappointing campaign, and the Netherlands suffered for the lack of big hitters in the middle order and of quality death bowling, and it’s galling that by contrast with the busy, demanding schedules which await the Full Members they and the other Associates will be returning to a diet of League 2 encounters with each other.

But that’s the way the dice are loaded, and until those fundamental problems are confronted by the ICC the extremely welcome expansion of such global tournaments as this will only have a limited effect.

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