Pathum Nissanka, Maheesh Theekshana help Sri Lanka book ODI World Cup spot

Zimbabwe’s final five batters added only 38 runs with three wickets in six balls drawing the hosts’ innings to a close after 32.2 overs.

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Sri Lanka Cricket Team
Sri Lanka Cricket Team. (Photo Source: Mark Kolbe-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka secured their place at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 by breezing past Zimbabwe in their Super Six encounter on Sunday.

Maheesh Theekshana took four for 25 to bowl out Zimbabwe for 165 inside 33 overs before a century from Pathum Nissanka powered Dasun Shanaka’s side to a nine-wicket win.

In the day’s other game, lower-order striking from Dipendra Singh Airee rescued Nepal as they defeated the United Arab Emirates by three wickets in the second seventh-place play-off semi-final.

Theekshana and Nissanka set up Sri Lanka win

Having been put into bat by Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe wobbled in Bulawayo, losing Joylord Gumbie for a five-ball duck before Wessly Madhevere departed for one to leave the Chevrons on eight for two.

Dilshan Madushanka took his third wicket of the morning to dismiss captain Craig Ervine, but in doing so brought the dangerous Sikandar Raza to the crease to join Sean Williams.

Raza played with the patience the situation required before Madushanka took a fine low catch to dismiss the all-rounder for 31 from 51 balls and end the 68-run partnership.

Williams could not add to his back-to-back centuries but did make 56 before he was bowled by Theekshana, who then combined with Matheesha Pathirana (2/18) to clean up the tail.

Zimbabwe’s final five batters added only 38 runs with three wickets in six balls drawing the hosts’ innings to a close after 32.2 overs.

In response to 165, Sri Lanka were led by Nissanka who made a run-a-ball fifty in a century partnership with the more watchful Dimuth Karunaratne.

The opener had reason to be cautious having been dropped on nought by Brad Evans in just the third over of the game, before surviving a review for caught behind on 21.

The review inspired Nissanka to power his side forward as he took Evans for three fours in the next over, bringing up his half-century shortly after.

The hundred-partnership arrived in the 19th over as Karunaratne took an easy single to move to 29 before the left-hander was dismissed by Richard Ngarava to leave Sri Lanka at 104 for one.

Nissanka continued to steer Sri Lanka to their total, ably supported by Kusal Mendis who selflessly turned down runs to allow Nissanka a shot at a hundred.

A wide from Wellington Masakadza brought the scores level with Nissanka three short of his second ODI ton before a four off the next ball brought up the milestone and the win, which will see Shanaka’s side head to India for the World Cup in October.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe are still in the driving seat to join Sri Lanka, knowing victory over Scotland on Tuesday will make their first appearance at a Cricket World Cup since 2015 certain.

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