A thorough all-round performance from Sri Lanka helped them secure a comprehensive seven-wicket win in the first game of their ICC Men's T20 World Cup campaign against Namibia.
After a minor hiccup in the beginning, Sri Lanka made light work of the 97-run target and chased it down with seven wickets and 39 balls to spare. The win takes Sri Lanka to the top of the Group A table with a net run rate of +2.607.
The Sri Lankan bowlers had won half the battle for their team in the first innings as the Namibia batters looked uncomfortable against the spin as well as the genuine pace. Maheesh Theekshana took three wickets, while Lahiru Kumara and Wanindu Hasaranga each had two.
With the bat, an unbeaten 74-run partnership between Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa guided Sri Lanka to victory as Namibia let an early advantage slip away.
Namibia make early in-roads
Having put up a target of only 97, Namibia needed its bowlers to bag early wickets to make a game of it. Kusal Perera was the first batter to make the long walk back after a slower one from Ruben Trumpelmann deceived the southpaw. The mis-hit carried to JJ Smit at mid-off, who completed a good diving catch to his right.
Sri Lanka lost their other in the next over when Bernard Scholtz trapped Pathum Nissanka in front of the stumps. Smit then struck with the first ball of his spell to give Namibia some hope of a fightback as Dinesh Chandimal's rut with the bat continued.
Fernando and Rajapaksa to the rescue
Sri Lanka were in a precarious position at 26/3 after the wicket of Chandimal. Namibia were pumped up after a great opening spell from their bowlers and were smelling blood.
Under pressure, Fernando, Sri Lanka's in-form batter, and Rajapaksa steered Sri Lanka out of trouble. Both players took the attack to the bowlers, with Rajapaksa assuming the role of the aggressor with four fours and a maximum. Sri Lanka went into the drinks break at 68/3 and in a much better position than they were at the Powerplay.
After the break, Sri Lanka pressed on the accelerator, perhaps keeping in mind Ireland's healthy net run-rate after the first game, and finished the game inside 14 overs.
Dream World Cup debut for Theekshana
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka opted to field in the first game between these two sides in any format.
Opening the bowling, Chamika Karunaratne and Dushmantha Chameera immediately extracted great movement and bounce off the surface in the first two overs. But, it was the spinner who reaped the rewards. Theekshana, making his T20 World Cup debut, struck on his very first ball, removing Stephan Baard for just 7.
Theekshana got his second of the innings with the batter, Zane Green trying to clear the boundary against the spinner but only managing to sky it to mid-on.
Gerhard Erasmus and Craig Williams came together to consolidate the innings, though it came at the cost of the scoring rate as Namibia made 54/2 in 10 overs.
Namibia collapse after brief revival
Sri Lanka wrestled control back after the 29-run partnership between the duo and ripped through the middle order, scalping four wickets in four overs. Brought back into the attack, Kumara made an instant impact as skipper Erasmus holed out trying to up the ante.
Namibia lost their other set batter, Williams, after he was trapped leg before to Hasaranga.
Karunaratne then scalped the all-important wicket of David Wiese before Theekshana returned for the last over of his spell and picked up his third wicket.
Namibia's lower order failed to offer any resistance and they were skittled out for a meagre 96.
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