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De Silva steadies Sri Lanka before spinners demolish Dutch

Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga spun through the Dutch batting as Sri Lanka eked out a 21-run victory on Friday in the opening Super Six game for both teams.

The victory kept Sri Lanka tied at the top of the standings with hosts and Sunday’s opponents Zimbabwe in the World Cup qualifying tournament and on course for one of two places in India.

“Zimbabwe is a big, big match for us,” said Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka after his side clinched victory.

Shanaka had won the toss and chosen to bat — though it looked as if he had made the wrong choice when Sri Lanka struggled to 213 all out in 47.4 overs.

The Dutch, who upset West Indies in the group stage, seemed on course for another surprise when they reduced Sri Lanka to 67-5 and then 96-6.

All-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva, coming in with five wickets down, helped steer Sri Lanka to a defensible total.

He struck 93 off 111 balls hitting eight fours and two sixes. He was well supported by Hasaranga and Theekshana, who scored 20 and 28 respectively.

“My idea was to bat through the overs,” de Silva said as he collected the Man of the Match award. “I was basically just playing straight.”

“I like to spend time in the middle. This was the opportunity for me to do it. I think I did a good job.”

Medium pacer Logan van Beek was the pick of the Dutch bowlers, taking three wickets for an economical 26 runs in nine overs. Bas de Leede also took three wickets, including de Silva, at a cost of 42.

The Dutch lost opener Vikramjit Singh for nought to the second ball. The other opener, Max O’Dowd also went for a duck five balls later.

Wesley Barresi and de Leede revived the innings. Barresi was run out for 52 attempting a single into the covers. Teja Nidamanuru then fell to Hasaranga for a duck.

Mystery spinner Theekshana bowled de Leede for 41 and in his next over dismissed Saqib Zulfiqar lbw and, for his third wicket in six balls, bowled van Beek for the fourth Dutch duck.

Shariz Ahmad tried to pinch a single on a misfield by wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis, who whipped off his glove, pounced on the ball and smashed the stumps at the bowler’s end with a laser throw.

Skipper Scott Edwards attempted to slog his team to victory but ran out of partners.

Hasaranga bowled Ryan Klein for 5 with a googly that jagged back through the gate.

Then, after an agonising last-wicket stand of 16, Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka bowled Aryan Dutt for seven with 10 overs still to play.

Edwards was left on 67 not out which included four fours and two sixes.

“We bowled really well. A bit disappointing with the bat,” said Edwards.

“We felt we should have got across the line.”