Abu Dhabi: A clinical performance with the ball followed by an unbroken partnership of 74 between Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa meant Sri Lanka edged past Namibia by seven wickets in a Group A match of the ICC men’s T20 World Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Monday.
The win was set up by off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana scalping 3/25 while Wanindu Hasaranga (2/24) and Lahiru Kumara (2/9) doing well to keep the Namibia batting line-up on a very tight leash. Chasing a paltry 96, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera (11) and Pathum Nissanka (5) in the first three overs.
Dinesh Chandimal couldn’t hang on for long, nicking behind to leave Sri Lanka in trouble at 26/3 in 5.1 overs. Avishka Fernando (30 not out off 28 balls) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (42 not out off 27 balls) ensured there were no further hiccups in the chase with an uninterrupted association of 74 off 50 balls. Rajaspaksa sealed the match in style with a six-over fine leg to take Sri Lanka home comfortably with 39 balls to spare.
Earlier, Namibia batters never looked comfortable in their stay of 19.3 overs. Their struggles against pace and spin meant that only three batters reached double-figures, with no boundaries coming in the last eight overs. Namibia began by scoring 30 runs in power-play, losing openers Stephan Baard (7) and Zane Green (8) to off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana.
Gerhard Erasmus and Craig Williams stitched a stand of 39 runs for the third wicket before the former skied a slog to long-on off Lahiru Kumara in the 13th over. In the next over, Williams went for a reverse sweep but failed to connect and was trapped plumb in front of the stumps by Wanindu Hasaranga.
After the fall of Williams, Namibia slipped from 73/4 to 96 all out. All-rounder David Wiese, who represented South Africa in the 2016 edition of the tournament, was trapped lbw by a nip-backer from Chamika Karunaratne for just seven in the 15th over. Bernard Scholtz’s run-out brought a tame close to Namibia’s innings with three balls left.