Sri Lanka overpower the Dutch to win the Qualifier

HARARE, ZIMBABWE - JULY 09: Clayton Floyd of Netherlands reacts during the ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Zimbabwe 2023 Final between Sri Lanka and Netherlands at Harare Sports Club on July 09, 2023 in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo by Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

After so many highs it was indeed disappointing that the Dutch campaign in Zimbabwe should end in such an unequivocal low, as the batting fell apart against a supreme Sri Lankan attack in the final at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday and the side slumped to a thumping 128-run defeat.

Even at the halfway mark, after the bowlers had again fought back to dismiss Sri Lanka for 233, there were grounds for hope that Scott Edwards’ side might realise their dream of not only qualifying for the World Cup, which they had done so dramatically on Thursday, but also of winning the tournament.

But Sri Lanka’s bowling has been outstanding throughout the Qualifier, and once the excellent Dilshan Madushanka had broken the opening partnership by getting Vikram Singh caught at point by Charith Asalanka, he and Wanindu Hasaranga proceeded to rip the heart out of the Dutch top order, five further wickets falling for the addition of just 24 runs.

At 49 for six it seemed possible that the Netherlands might be dismissed for their lowest-ever ODI total – the 80 they made against the West Indies in Dublin in 2007, but Max O’Dowd was hanging on by his fingertips as chaos reigned at the other end, and he and Logan van Beek added a precious 36 for the seventh wicket.

They managed to see off Madushanka, whose seven overs of accurate pace had yielded him three for 18, while Hasaranga claimed two for 35, but when Theekshana, who had shared the new ball, returned to bowl O’Dowd for a dogged 33, he needed only another eleven deliveries to finish it off, ending with four for 31.

One of the topics for reflection in the Dutch camp will be the fact that there were no fewer than six LBW dismissals in the innings, three of them involving the top seven; across the tournament, there were 15 such dismissals out of 55 Dutch wickets that fell.

On the Sri Lankan side, however, there will also be some concern at the way the batting subsided from 180 for three with fifteen overs left to 233 all out, as the Dutch attack again asserted itself in the back end of the innings.

They were without Bas de Leede, who had flown back to England to rejoin Durham, but Vikram Singh stepped into the gap splendidly, removing both openers in successive overs after Sri Lanka had made a steady start.

Sadeera Samarawickrama fell to a superb catch at cover by debutant Noah Croes, De Leede’s replacement, diving forward to grasp the ball millimetres from the ground, and Pathum Nissanka soon followed, equally well taken by Aryan Dutt at deep fine leg.

There would have been more problems for Sri Lanka had Singh been able to cling on to a sharp return catch from Kushal Mendis when he had made just four; as it was he went on to make 43, adding 72 for the third wicket with Sahan Arachchige.

He was eventually trapped in front by Saqib Zulfiqar, but Arachchige was now joined by Asalanka, and they put on a further 64, putting their side on course for a total of around 300.

It all changed in five minutes of mayhem, with three dismissals, all of which involved the mercurial Logan van Beek.

First he took a magnificent diving catch at silly point to remove Arachchige for an excellent 57, his maiden ODI half-century; three balls later he produced a direct hit from short midwicket to run out Asalanka for 36; and then he had Dasun Shanaka caught by Singh at mid-on to complete a remarkable set.

Ryan Klein returned to bowl Dhananjaya de Silva, and four wickets had fallen in less than three overs for the addition of ten runs.

Hasaranga and Theekshana combined to add an invaluable 32 runs before Hasaranga was well caught by O’Dowd off Klein for a 21-ball 29, and when Edwards stumped Theekshana off Dutt and Croes, who had had some testing moments in the field, caught Matheesha Pathirana off Van Beek the innings ended on 233.

It had been a spirited comeback by the Dutch but the Sri Lankan total was, as it turned out, more than enough.

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