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ICC World Cup: New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by five wickets; Seals semi-final spot

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In ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, last night. New Zealand chased down the victory target of 172 runs in 23.2 overs. With this victory, the black caps have almost sealed its place in the semi-finals.

Trent Boult (3/37) and Mitchell Santner (2/22) produced magnificent performances to lead a clinical New Zealand bowling effort as they rolled Sri Lanka over for 171 in Bangalore on Thursday (November 9). It was a forgettable batting effort from the Lankans as only two of their batters got past 20, one being tailender Maheesh Theekshana. In fact, his 43-run stand for the last wicket with Dilshan Madushanka avoided the total from being an embarrassing one.

Kane Williamson won a good toss with inclement weather around and rightly chose to bowl under overcast conditions on what seemed like another decent batting strip in Bangalore. However, the overhead conditions meant there was a hint of swing upfront and Boult pounced on it. His new-ball partner Tim Southee started the procession by taking out the in-form Pathum Nissanka before Boult got into the act. The left-arm seamer had Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama in quick succession as Sri Lanka slid to 32/3 in the fifth over.

Kusal Perera appeared unfazed by the cluster of wickets and chose to fight fire with fire. The dynamic left-hander played his brand of aggressive cricket to race away to a fifty inside the first ten overs. He was severe on anything remotely loose and some of his shots showed how good the pitch was for batting even if it was a fraction on the slower side. Boult removed Charith Asalanka and Perera became Lockie Ferguson’s first victim of the game as Sri Lanka lost half their side within the first Powerplay itself. With such a start, the writing was on the wall for the batting side and Sri Lanka never recovered.

With the slow nature of track and a hint of turn available, Santner turned on the screws with a very tidy spell. Much like his spells all through the tournament, the left-arm spinner was very hard to score off and had the batters in a tangle often with his guile. He also picked up the last recognized batters in Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva to ensure that there wouldn’t be a fightback from the Lankans. New Zealand’s bowling was relentless and it meant that they kept chipping away at the wickets. At 128/9 with more than 100 deliveries left, New Zealand may have fancied a quick wrap up but that wasn’t to be.

Theekshana and Madushanka showed a lot of resolve, something the specialist batters didn’t do, and tried their best to bat out the overs together. Their partnership was the highest of the innings for Sri Lanka and while the runs didn’t come at a fair clip, the duo at least managed to put up some sort of a fight. It took the young Rachin Ravindra to break the stand as he had Madushanka caught behind with a cracking delivery.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 171 in 46.4 overs (Kusal Perera 51, Maheesh Theekshana 38*; Trent Boult 3-37, Rachin Ravindra 2-21, Mitchell Santner 2-22) vs New Zealand

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