Bowlers Shine as SL off to Winning Start
By Anjana Kaluarachchi reporting from Abu Dhabi
Youngster Maheesh Theekshana struck thrice as bowlers led the charge for Sri Lanka as they beat Namibia by seven wickets in their first match of the ICC T20 World Cup round one in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Theekshana, 21, claimed 3 for 25, while the sheer pace of the Sri Lankan pace trio left Namibia clueless as they were bowled out of 96 runs in 19.3 overs. Chasing the modest tally, Sri Lanka had early hiccups as their problem with the top order continued, losing three for 26 within the power play, but once again Avishka Fernando (30 n.o) at number four and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (42 n.o) at number five settled things and guided Sri Lanka over the line easily.
Pair finished with a 74 runs stand. Fernando hit two sixes while Rajapaksa hammered four fours and two sixes in his 27-delivery inning. Kusal Perera was once again dismissed cheaply for just 11, while Pathum Nissanka could only add five runs. Dinesh Chandimal who was chosen ahead of Charith Asalanka for the number three slot, could not justify his selection once again as he was dismissed for 5 off 12. Sri Lanka used five bowlers - four different bowlers in the first four overs - as Namibia could not get going, while Theekshana started proceedings with a wicket in his very first delivery removing Zane Green for 08.
Both Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara consistently hit the deck at over 140 kmph, which left the Nambian batters shell shocked. After having trouble with pace, Namibian batsmen tried to take chances against spin, but ended up gifting their wickets as Theekshana finished with 3 for 25 while Hasaranga claimed 2-25. Lahiru Kumara’s 3.3 overs yielded only 9 runs and he picked up two wickets including the last wicket in the 19th over, while Dushmantha Chameera finished with 1 for 19. Sri Lanka’s third seamer Chamika Karunarathne who started opened the bowling, too, hit 139 kmph and he finished with 1 for 17. Match started with players of both teams observing a moment of silent in memory of Sri Lanka’s first Test skipper Bandula Warnapura who passed away last morning.