The pace trio of Sri Lanka produced some serious heat to overpower Namibia in their ICC Men's T20 World Cup Group A opener.
Sri Lanka crank up the pace
It was no surprise to see Sri Lanka’s spinners produce an outstanding display in their tournament opener, with Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Teekshana taking five wickets between them for a miserly 49 runs. But what was more eye-catching, and possibly more significant, was the Sri Lankan pace attack.
The trio of fast bowlers blew Namibia away, with Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, in particular, showing a level of pace and quality that will trouble the more fancied teams if Sri Lanka reach the Super 12.
It’s a highly versatile attack that Dasun Shanaka has at his disposal, with spinners who can turn it both ways and that three-pronged pace threat, and it gives Sri Lanka a chance of doing something at this tournament, if the batters can keep up their end of the bargain.
Rajapaksa lights it up
Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother at 26/3 after none of their top three fired. A selection decision on that top order may lie in wait for the coaching staff, but the lack of runs in the powerplay didn’t hurt Sri Lanka on this occasion, largely thanks to the exceptional Bhanuka Rajapaksa.
The 29-year-old produced a sparkling free-flowing 42* from 27 balls, smashing the winning runs with his sixth boundary of an exhilarating knock.
Fielding of the highest quality on show
Both Namibia and Sri Lanka provided some terrific moments in the field.
JJ Smit made his catch off Ruben Trumpelmann to dismiss Kusal Perera look far more straightforward than it was, registering Namibia’s first-ever T20 World Cup wicket in the process.
But the moment of the day in the field came from the Sri Lanka skipper, whose jaw-dropping take to remove Trumpelmann could already have the ‘catch of the tournament’ moniker wrapped up.
Running forward and taking a stooping one-handed catch just millimetres from the floor, it was a moment of the highest quality from Dasun Shanaka.
Reason for optimism for Namibia
This was always likely to be Namibia’s toughest test in Group A but, on the way to their seven-wicket loss, the Eagles got overs into eight separate bowlers in an encouraging display of bowling depth.
Not a single one of those bowlers got taken down either, with front-line seamer Trumpelmann the most expensive of the eight on show.
Although Namibia’s innings with the bat never really got going, there was still some encouragement in the form of captain Gerhard Erasmus's 20(19). And top-scorer Craig Williams, who hit 29, showed the ability to clear the ropes too, with his side’s only two maximums.
Netherlands and Ireland await for Namibia, where they will hope to show more of their quality.
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