CWC: New Zealand bolster chance of claiming semi-final spot by securing 5-wicket win over Sri Lanka

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BENGALURU: New Zealand further fortified their position to qualify for the semi-final of the ongoing World Cup with a 5-wicket victory against Sri Lanka at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.

The Kiwis are now in the fourth spot with 10 points with an NRR of 0.743 leaving Pakistan to win at least by 287 runs against England.

While chasing a paltry score of 172, New Zealand stumbled five times with openers Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, skipper Kane Williamson, Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell turning out to be the victims of the night. Conway and Ravindra provided an ideal start to the Kiwis, scoring at a brisk pace in the powerplay and putting up 73 runs. In the next 10 overs, Sri Lanka bounced back claiming three wickets to raise hopes of an unlikely comeback.

Dushmantha Chameera broke the opening partnership by dismissing Conway for a score of 45(42). Maheesh Theekshana followed up in the next over to send Ravindra back to the pavilion for a score of 42(34). Williamson (14) has performed consistently in the limited number of appearances that he has made in the tournament but today failed to make his mark in the match. The experienced batter tried to play a cut shot, found an inside edge and the ball crashed into the stumps. Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell’s miscommunication helped Sri Lanka claim their fourth wicket of the night.

Mitchell lost his wicket while making an attempt to clear the boundary, he tried to lift it over the covers but played it a bit early, Asalanka at deep mid-wicket made no mistake while taking the catch. Glenn Philips and Tom Latham ensured that the Kiwis chased down the target without losing any further wickets.

Earlier in the innings, New Zealand’s star-studded pace bowling attack set the tone of the game picking up early wickets and restricting Sri Lanka’s hopes of putting up a massive score.

Before the end of the powerplay, Sri Lanka were down by five wickets after putting up a score of 74 runs on the board. Boult set the tone of the game by conceding just a single run in the first over. Tim Southee made the most of the available opportunity and made most of it by dismissing Pathum Nissanka for a score of 2(8). Boult made his mark in the match in the fourth over by dismissing out-of-form Kusal Mendis 6(7), continuing his horror show at the ongoing World Cup.

In the same over Sadeera Samarawickrama (1) went down while attempting to play a stroke and found a thick edge which carried straight to Daryl Mitchell at the wide slip. Kusal Perera on the other end continued to find boundaries trying to keep Sri Lanka’s run flow while wickets continued to tumble down on the other end. He brought up his fifty with a beautiful drive in Lockie Ferguson’s over.

Boult continued to take wickets with Charith Asalanka (8) becoming his latest victim. The left-handed batter failed to read the line and got trapped in front of wickets. Ferguson rubbed salt on Sri Lanka’s wounds by claiming set batter Perera’s wicket who was looking to end the powerplay on a high note. Perera tried to clear the boundary but launched the ball high in the air and ended up in Mitchell Santner’s hands at covers.

Wickets continued to tumble down as the middle-order batters failed to stitch up a partnership that could bring the Lions back into the game. Maheesh Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka combined together to put up 43 runs on the board for the final wicket and take Sri Lanka’s score to 171.

Boult was the pick of the bowlers as he ended with a figure of 3-37 in 10 overs.

Brief Score: Sri Lanka 171 (Kusal Perera 51, Maheesh Theekshana 38*; Trent Boult 3-37) vs New Zealand 172/5 (Devon Conway 45, Daryl Mitchell 43; Angelo Mathews 2-29). (ANI)

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