Young Sri Lankan team exits ICC T20 World Cup with much needed experience

(Cricket news) 2014 champions Sri Lanka have joined their fellow mates West Indies and Bangladesh as they lose out in the semi final race of the ICC T20 World Cup. The Lankans had to battle against Netherlands, Ireland and Namibia in Group A before they could enter the Super 12 due to their T20 ranking.


Sri Lanka faced Namibia in the first match as Maheesh Theekshana and Lahiru Kumara took five wickets between them as Kumara conceded 9 runs in 21 balls. The Lankans had a target of 97 to achieve which they did in 14 overs as Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored 42* from 27 balls to lead the side to victory.


In the next match, the Lankans had a tougher battle as they had to face Ireland. Pathum Nissanka and Wanindu Hasaranga blew away the Irish bowlers as the team posted a challenging total of 171 in 20 overs. Hasaranga then led with the ball as he took a wicket while giving away 12 runs in his spell and Theekshana getting three scalps for 17 runs in 4 overs as Ireland got all out for 101.


In their final match before Super 12, Sri Lanka confirmed their place with a stellar victory over Netherlands. Netherlands lost the toss and had to bat first as they collapsed for the second lowest score in T20 World Cups. Colin Ackermann was the only batsmen to register a double digit score as the target was 45 in 20 overs. Bowlers Lahiru and Hasaranga took three wickets each while conceding 7 and 9 runs respectively. Sri Lanka won the match in 43 balls as they finished the group stage with three victories. 


In the Super 12, Sri Lanka faced Bangladesh in their first match as the Tigers set up an imposing total of 171 with the help of Mohammad Naim and Mushfiqur Rahim. Sri Lankan openers could not be of much help as third in line Charith Asalanka smashed a vital 49 ball 80* as he got support from Bhanuka who hit a half century as they won the game with an over and five wickets to spare.


In their second match, the former champions faced big guns Australia as the Lankan batters failed to get going against Aussie bowling. Kusal Perera and Asalanka top scored with 35 runs as some late exploits from Bhanuka saw them crossing the 150 run mark. The Australians had a target of 155 as they came in to bat, David Warner led the chase with a solid half century as they won in 17 overs with 7 wickets to spare.


In their third match, Sri Lanka faced South Africa’s deadly bowling attack as the Proteas won the toss and chose to bowl. The South Africans did exactly what they wanted to do as only opener Pathum Nissanka was able to smash the bowlers when he scored a valiant 72 off 58 balls as the team’s score board was 142 all out in 20 overs. Hasaranga led with the bowling as the Lankans almost had the match when the score was 112-6 in the 17th over as he took a hat trick and they had to defend 15 in the last over. David Miller was the hero as he hit two sixes in the last over as Kagiso Rabada hit the winning boundary as the South Africans won the match with four wickets and a ball to spare.


In their fourth match, a heartbroken Lankan team had to face an unbeaten England side which was on a three match winning streak. Jos Butler hit an unbeaten century to take team’s total to 163 in 20 overs as Hasaranga once again led with the ball as he took three wickets for 21 runs along with Theekshana who took two wickets for 13 runs. The Sri Lankan batters failed to rise up to the occasion as Hasaranga was the top scorer with 34 runs as the rest of the team collapsed in 19 overs scoring 137 runs.


With three defeats, the semifinal spot was out of contention as it was the clash of the T20 champions when Sri Lanka faced West Indies as both the teams had nothing to lose. West Indies won the toss and chose to bowl as opener Nissanka went past the 200 run mark in the tournament with a steady half century as Asalanka also went past the 200 run mark and became the leading run scorer of the tournament when he scored 68 with 8 boundaries and a maximum. 


West Indies had to score 190 in twenty overs as Nicholas Pooran hit a crucial 46 to do what the openers were supposed to do, that is to give a good start to the chase but with his exit the run rate again went down. Shimron Hetmyer then hit few ones out of the park for a well played 81* from 41 balls as the Indies lost the match by 20 runs. Hasaranga led the bowling attack with two wickets for 19 runs in his four overs.


The young Sri Lankan team will have learned so much with their outing at the World Cup and have performed well with the bat and bowl. Asalanka lead the batting charts with 231 runs in 6 matches as Hasaranga is currently highest the wicket taker in the tournament with 16 wickets in 8 matches, he broke the record of Ajantha Mendis who took 15 wickets in the 2012 edition.


Also read: India ousted as New Zealand clinch semifinal spot with comprehensive win over Afghans


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