World T20: Sri Lanka overcome early wobble to beat Namibia

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A thorough all-round performance from Sri Lanka helped them secure a comprehensive seven-wicket win in the first game of their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign against Namibia.

After a minor hiccup in the beginning, Sri Lanka made light work of the 97-run target and chased it down with seven wickets and 39 balls to spare. The win takes Sri Lanka to the top of the Group A table with a net run rate of +2.607.

The Sri Lankan bowlers had won half the battle for their team in the first innings as the Namibia batters looked uncomfortable against the spin as well as the genuine pace. Maheesh Theekshana took three wickets, while Lahiru Kumara and Wanindu Hasaranga each had two.

With the bat, an unbeaten 74-run partnership between Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa guided Sri Lanka to victory as Namibia let an early advantage slip away.

Namibia make early in-roads

Having put up a target of only 97, Namibia needed its bowlers to bag early wickets to make a game of it. Kusal Perera was the first batter to make the long walk back after a slower one from Ruben Trumpelmann deceived the southpaw. The mis-hit carried to JJ Smit at mid-off, who completed a good diving catch to his right.

Sri Lanka lost their other in the next over when Bernard Scholtz trapped Pathum Nissanka in front of the stumps. Smit then struck with the first ball of his spell to give Namibia some hope of a fightback as Dinesh Chandimal’s rut with the bat continued.

Fernando and Rajapaksa to the rescue

Sri Lanka were in a precarious position at 26/3 after the wicket of Chandimal. Namibia were pumped up after a great opening spell from their bowlers and were smelling blood.

Under pressure, Fernando, Sri Lanka’s in-form batter, and Rajapaksa steered Sri Lanka out of trouble. Both players took the attack to the bowlers, with Rajapaksa assuming the role of the aggressor with four fours and a maximum. Sri Lanka went into the drinks break at 68/3 and in a much better position than they were at the Powerplay.

After the break, Sri Lanka pressed on the accelerator, perhaps keeping in mind Ireland’s healthy net run-rate after the first game, and finished the game inside 14 overs. (ICC)

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