Sri Lanka 263 for 5 (Samarawickrama 91, Nissanka 54, Dutt 3-44) beat The Netherlands 262 (Engelbrecht 70, van Beek 59, Madushanka 4-49, Rajitha 4-50) by five wickets
Maiden ODI half-centuries by Sybrand Engelbrecht and Logan van Beek went in vain as Sri Lanka got their World Cup campaign up and running with a clinical chase of 263 with five wickets to spare in Lucknow.
Sadeera Samarawickrama led the Sri Lankan reply with an unbeaten 91 and was part of three fifty-plus partnerships despite off-spinner Aryan Dutt’s nifty spell of 3-44.
Another top-order collapse left the Dutch reeling at 91-6 after opting to bat on a grassy, red clay pitch in their only day game. That they recovered to post 262 was credit in large part to the record-breaking 130-run partnership between Engelbrecht and Van Beek, the highest for the seventh-wicket or lower at a men’s ODI World Cup.
Joining hands as early as the 22nd over, the two played were largely risk-averse with the aim of batting through to the full 50 overs and put on a competitive total.
No boundaries were scored off the bat for nearly 20 overs – from the 10th to the 30th – as the duo prioritised running between the wickets and gradual shift in tempo.
If Engelbrecht was impressive in just his third ODI appearance, Logan van Beek displayed a sage-like resilience when tasked with an uncharacteristic role with the bat. Usually the finisher, here he dug deep in a 108-minute vigil which included a solitary four and a six.
Ultimately, seam bowling proved to be their undoing as left-armer Dilshan Madushanka and Kasun Rajitha bagged four apiece as the Dutch were bowled out with two deliveries unused.
In response, Sri Lanka’s facile chase was built on steady partnerships of 52, 77 and 76 – a point of difference between the two sides.
Dutt exploited the spin-friendly conditions well to keep the Dutch in the game but lacked support from other bowlers. He struck twice during the powerplay to see off the openers before bowling Charith Asalanka for 44 to open the game up at 181-4.
Samarawickrama’s sixth ODI half-century may well have been cut short on 0 had Scott Edwards not missed a leg side stumping off Dutt.
Given Sri Lanka’s propensity for collapses, having lost 10 wickets for 84 runs earlier in the week against Australia, every wicket was warmly cheered on by a handful of travelling Dutch fans – a speck of orange in a sea of locals.
But the only hiccup came with Sri Lanka four runs away and victory a mere formality.
“I just thought we didn’t string enough good balls together for long enough to put the Sri Lanka team under pressure,” Engelbrecht told a press conference.
“So, unfortunately, they were quite clinical in the way that they executed. They were able to absorb the pressure and then transfer the pressure onto us.”
Much of the script for the Netherlands’ six-wicket loss followed that of Dharamsala’s win: a top-order collapse before the lower middle-order dug deep to post their highest total of this World Cup barring wickets with the ball to stumble to their third defeat in four games.
Signs of improvements
Despite failing to break their duck against Sri Lanka, vice captain Max O’Dowd pointed to the improvements made since they twice shambled with the bat against the same side, barring an injured Wanindu Hasaranga, by being bowled out for scores of 192 and 105 at the World Cup Qualifiers in June and July.
“In Zimbabwe, their spinners, (Maheesh) Theekshana, (Wanindu) Hasaranga, two of the best mystery spinners in the world, were all over us,” he said.
“We did a lot of work and the way we played their spinners today was testament to the work we have put in. It just hasn’t clicked for us at the top, it is frustrating but once it does, you’ll be seeing a few different scores rather than the scrappy 260s we have been scoring now.”
The Netherlands will now regroup and take on fourth-placed Australia on Wednesday, October 25 (10:30 am CEST).
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