Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 41st Match 2023/24

New Zealand 172 for 5 (Conway 45, Mitchell 43, Mathews 2-29) beat Sri Lanka 171 (Perera 51, Boult 3-37, Ravindra 2-21) by six wickets

New Zealand all but booked their place in the World Cup semi-final against India with a dominant five-wicket win – with 160 balls to spare – against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru. The result took them to ten points, and a net run rate (NRR) of 0.743, leaving Pakistan needing to beat England by 287 runs, while Afghanistan need an even more fantastical 438-run win over South Africa, if they are to surpass New Zealand’s NRR.

If Pakistan were to chase, they would have no chance of qualifying.

As for Sri Lanka, the margin of defeat against New Zealand left them languishing in ninth place, thus out of qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy. They now need one of England or Bangladesh to suffer defeats – while Netherlands also need to lose to India – to the extent that their respective NRRs drop below Sri Lanka’s.

New Zealand’s win was the product of an all-round performance with bat and ball. While the threat of rain in Bengaluru ultimately proved to be a red herring, winning the toss and putting Sri Lanka in seemed to be the most prudent way to ensure both an NRR-boosting victory as well as hedge against any rain interruptions and DLS interventions.

On a pitch that proved even better to bat on under lights, Ravindra and Conway put on 86 to break open the chase, before Mitchell’s 43 off just 31 balls rammed home the result. All three fell before the finish, but the win was never in doubt.

That it was so easy in the end was down to a solid bowling effort and a haphazard outing with the bat for Sri Lanka. New Zealand shared the wickets around, with Lockie Ferguson, Mitchell Santner and Ravindra picking up two apiece, though Trent Boult‘s 3 for 37 was what had set his side up at the top of Sri Lanka’s innings – and earned him the Player-of-the-Match award.

Such was New Zealand’s dominance that they won so comfortably despite dropping three catches. The first was of Kusal Perera without scoring, as Tom Latham grassed a straightforward caught behind. Latham got his shot at redemption a ball later though, with Pathum Nissanka nicking through for an even more simple chance.

Kusal Mendis fell a few overs later, splicing a leading edge to deep third while looking to hit over midwicket, with Sadeera Samarawickrama following soon after edging through to Mitchell at first slip. Both those wickets were grabbed by the excellent Boult, taking him past 50 wickets in World Cups – he ended the game with that tally on 52.

But even as wickets fell at one end, Perera functioned as a one-man army, finding boundaries all around the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and punishing New Zealand for that early drop. Two picked-up sixes over long-on off Tim Southee were the highlights of some belligerent ball striking, as he brought up his 50 off just 22 deliveries – the joint second-fastest by a Sri Lankan in ODI World Cups.

An over later, though, Charith Asalanka was adjudged lbw off Boult after a well-taken review, before Perera fell a few deliveries later, getting under a delivery from Ferguson that was not full enough to drive and slicing it to cover.

Sri Lanka were in free fall at 70 for 5 in the tenth over, before Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva put up mild resistance. Dhananjaya was reprieved too, courtesy Latham’s second drop of the game, a tough chance off Santner during that stand of 34. Santner’s guile, control and subtle variations in pace, however, were eventually too good for the pair.

Mathews was the first to go in what might have been his last World Cup innings – perhaps even ODI innings – lunging forward at one that was floated up and then dipped. He failed to get to the pitch, and the bounce and turn did the rest, grazing the outside edge to Mitchell at slip. It was a similar story for Dhananjaya, after another flighted delivery with some added bounce found its way into Mitchell’s hands.

Chamika Karunaratne, making just his second appearance at this World Cup, did not fare any better, edging behind Ferguson. A swift end to the innings seemed imminent but Maheesh Theekshana, in partnerships with Dushmantha Chameera and Dilshan Madushanka, showed the resistance that was lacking throughout the rest of the innings.

In facing 91 deliveries, Theekshana played more balls than all of Sri Lanka’s frontline batters combined. Even Madushanka’s 48 balls were more than what any other batter faced apart from Theekshana.

Theekshana remained unbeaten on 38 – the second-highest scorer of the innings – as the ninth and tenth wicket stands, despite only contributing 58 runs, spanned 139 deliveries. Sri Lanka lost their eighth wicket in the 24th over, but it wasn’t until the 47th that New Zealand dismissed them, with Ravindra finding Madushanka’s edge for Latham to complete a sharp take.

It took a while for New Zealand to get there, after winning their first four matches and then losing their next four, but this victory has all but ensured a fifth consecutive ODI World Cup semi-final.

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