Sri Lanka survive Dutch scare
Sri Lanka were truly tested for the first time at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023, but big performances from Dhananjaya de Silva and Maheesh Theekshana got them out of trouble against the Netherlands.
Dhananjaya made 93, his best ODI score, to help Sri Lanka recover from 96 for six to make 213.
And Theekshana then took three wickets in the space of two overs to derail the Dutch chase in a 21-run victory.
In the other game of the day in Harare, Ireland eased to victory in the 7th place play-off semi-final, beating the USA by six wickets.
Sri Lanka pushed to the limit by the Netherlands
The Netherlands signalled their intent from the very first ball of their clash with Sri Lanka, with Pathum Nissanka sent on his way for a duck by Logan van Beek.
That was part of a dream start for the Dutch, who quickly had the Sri Lankans 34 for four as Van Beek (3/26) showed his skill with the ball four days on from his heroics with the bat against the West Indies.
It required a sensational knock from Dhananjaya de Silva to get Sri Lanka to 213 all out, and even that did not look like it would be anywhere near enough.
However, just as the Netherlands seemed to be on track in reply, Maheesh Theekshana (3/31) swung the momentum with three quick wickets as the Netherlands eventually fell 21 runs short.
They had started so well. Nissanka departed after just one ball, before Ryan Klein had Kusal Mendis (10) trapped in front in the fourth over.
Van Beek added Sadeera Samarawickrama (1) and Charith Asalanka (2), bringing Dhananjaya to the crease.
He began to rebuild with Dimuth Karunaratne, who then fell for 33, with skipper Dasun Shanaka then departing for five, Saqib Zulfiqar (2/48) accounting for both men.
Wanindu Hasaranga provided some useful runs, making 20 in a 35-run stand with Dhananjaya. And after he fell LBW to Bas de Leede (3/42), Theekshana joined Dhananjaya.
The duo added 77 runs, taking Sri Lanka past 200 before both getting out in the space of three deliveries.
A target of 214 was certainly in reach for the Dutch, albeit on a tricky wicket for the batters.
Their cause was not helped by both openers falling for ducks, Lahiru Kumara removing Vikramjit Singh and Dilshan Madushanka accounting for Max O'Dowd.
However a 77-run partnership between Wesley Barresi (52) and De Leede (41) got the chase back on track. It was ended by some sharp work in the field by Shanaka, with Barresi short of his ground while trying to steal a single.
Teja Nidamanuru then became the third Dutch batter to go for a duck, bowled by Hasaranga. In came Scott Edwards and the skipper quickly settled in alongside De Leede, the pair adding 36 in six overs.
Sri Lanka were in desperate need of a breakthrough and it came from Theekshana, who snuck one through the defences of De Leede.
He added two more in his next over, including the vital wicket of Van Beek, before another run-out saw Shariz Ahmed depart for two, leaving the Netherlands on 151 for eight.
Edwards and Ryan Klein added 25, inching closer with the required rate not an issue, but a perfect wrong'un from Hasaranga was too good for Klein (5).
That left the final pair with 38 to get in 17 overs and the in-form Edwards helped get them close, but the skipper was left stranded unbeaten on 67 when Aryan Dutt was clean bowled by Shanaka.