Too little too late for Sri Lanka after big win over Netherlands at T20 World Cup

Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews attempts to catch a ball during their ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup match against the Netherlands. Picture: Timothy A. Clary / AFP

Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews attempts to catch a ball during their ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup match against the Netherlands. Picture: Timothy A. Clary / AFP

Published Jun 17, 2024


An eliminated Sri Lankan team overwhelmed the Netherlands by 83 runs in the final Group D match of the T20 World Cup at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Sunday.

Opener Kusal Mendis and middle-order batsman Charith Asalanka posted identical scores of 46 to set the pace for the 2014 champions in a total of 201 for six, the first 200-plus total ever posted at this ground in a T20 International.

With their hopes of Super Eight qualification rapidly disappearing as Bangladesh closed in on victory in a low-scoring encounter unfolding at the same time in St Vincent, the Dutch faded after a bright start in being dismissed for 118 off 16.4 overs in reply.

Captain Scott Edwards and opener Michael Levitt contributed joint-topscores of 31 but Sri Lanka’s varied and talented attack was too good for the Netherlands line-up, pacer Nuwan Thushara leading the way with three for 24.

Mendis’ effort came off 29 balls (five fours) while Asalanka, following in his wake, occupied eight balls fewer courtesy of one four and five sixes, most of them boosted by a strong crosswind at the venue on the northern tip of the island.

Logan van Beek, grandson of the late former West Indies and New Zealand wicketkeeper/batsman Simpson “Sammy” Guillen, was the leading wicket-taker with victims off successive balls in his third over although his four overs cost 45 runs.

"The (playing) conditions here were far better than in the USA," said Asalanka on receiving the 'Man of the Match' award. "I am enjoying my finishing role although it can be a tough place to come in at number five in the order but I have to adjust and play according to the conditions."

An opening stand of 45 inside five overs set the Netherlands on course. However from the moment slingy seamer Nuwan Thushara removed Max O’Dowd the innings went into a steady decline.

They were already labouring at 69 for four after nine overs when the news filtered through of Bangladesh’s 21-run victory over the Nepalase to claim the final spot in the next round of the competition. From that point it was just a matter of Sri Lanka closing out the result against the deflated Dutch.

"We were too slow to react to particular conditions at this ground and that is something we have to get better at (wherever we play,” said Dutch skipper Edwards in reflecting on his team’s failure to counteract the Sri Lankan’s strategy of hitting with the wind to the short side boundary.

"We gave ourselves chances to win at least three of our matches in this group but in those key moments we were slight off our game. You can’t afford that against good sides."

For Sri Lanka’s leader Wanindu Hasaranga, this final performance showed the true quality of his team.

"After losing our first two games this win is very healthy for us,” he stated. "We wanted to put a 160-170-plus score on the board and with our bowling attack anything over 160 we can defend. Our problem in this tournament has been the first six overs. When we batted in previous matches we lost too many wickets. This time we started well and had success."