Kusal Mendis slammed a fine 79 to help 2014 champions Sri Lanka post 162/6 in their decisive Group A match in the first round of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup against the Netherlands at Kardinia Park, Geelong, on Thursday.
Mendis nearly carried his bat throughout the innings, overcoming points of struggle in his 44-ball stay at the crease, laced with five fours and as many sixes at a strike rate of 179.55 to get Sri Lanka a score they would be very sure of defending.
Electing to bat first, the Netherlands were in control for the first ten overs, conceding only 60 runs. Pacer Paul van Meekeren was impressive with his raw pace and control, resulting in rattling Pathum Nissanka’s stumps with a fiery yorker and trapping Dhananjaya de Silva lbw for a golden duck in the seventh over.
Mendis and Charith Asalanka (31 off 30 balls) ensured Sri Lanka didn’t have a middle-order collapse with their 60-run stand off 45 balls for the third wicket. After Asalanka fell, Mendis went for the big hits to reach his ninth T20I fifty and was supported well by Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 13-ball 19 as Sri Lanka crossed the 160-mark.
For the Netherlands, van Meekeren and Bas de Leede took two wickets each while Tim van der Gugten and Fred Klaassen took a wicket apiece. But their bowling couldn’t maintain the grip they had in the first ten overs as Sri Lanka collected 102 runs off their last ten overs.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 162/6 in 20 overs (Kusal Mendis 79, Charith Asalanka 31; Paul van Meekeren 2/25, Bas de Leede 2/31) against the Netherlands