World Cup 2023: New Zealand thump Sri Lanka to all but seal semi-final spot

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New Zealand all but sealed a World Cup semi-final spot with an easy five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Bengaluru.

Sri Lanka, who were already eliminated, were bowled out for 171, with Black Caps seamer Trent Boult taking 3-36.

In a chaotic start, they slumped to 70-5 in 9.3 overs, with opener Kusal Perera smashing 51 from 28 balls.

New Zealand reached their target in 23.2 overs to give their net run-rate a significant boost and make it unlikely they can be overtaken in fourth.

Pakistan and Afghanistan can still match the Black Caps on 10 points, but would need highly improbable margins of victory over England and South Africa respectively to overhaul New Zealand’s superior net run rate.

Sri Lanka could not make the most of a decent pitch after being put into bat, with Perera the only member of the top five to reach double figures.

Only stubborn resistance from final pair Maheesh Theekshana, who made 38 not out from 91, and Dilshan Madushanka, who added 19 from 48, helped them avoid a total capitulation.

The Kiwis started brightly in reply through Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra’s classy opening stand of 86, then losing five wickets for 76 as they looked to seal victory as quickly as possible, before Glenn Phillips wrapped up the win.

New Zealand bounce back

The Black Caps again went under the radar in the build-up but, having finished runners-up in the past two editions, look set for another World Cup knockout stage.

Their positive start of four wins in a row meant they got in a strong position to reach the semi-finals early on, meaning they could afford the four straight defeats that followed.

Once fourth place is confirmed, it sets up an intriguing encounter against India, who won the meeting in the group stages and are unbeaten, but lost the 2019 semi-final to the Black Caps and are under immense pressure as hosts.

Ravindra, whose 42 here took him back to the top of the run-scoring chart, is the breakout star of the World Cup so far, while there were other positive signs in Conway’s return to form and captain Kane Williamson continuing to slot back in effortlessly after injury.

New Zealand have been dealt some injury blows in their bowling attack, with Matt Henry ruled out of the tournament, but they have withstood it all, fighting on in the quiet, dignified way Kiwi sides are admired for.

Boult looked back to his venomous best with the new ball and was backed up by long-time partner Tim Southee, while spinner Mitchell Santner’s economical 2-22 took his tally to 15 wickets so far.

They may not go into tournaments as favourites, but they remain a team to fear and will be desperate to make it third time lucky in their quest for World Cup glory. (BBC Sport)

 

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