Sri Lanka can count on some of the leading batters and bowlers at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier, while Netherlands will turn to their proven match-winners when the India-bound teams meet in the tournament final.
The undefeated Sri Lanka have surged into the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India with a barnstorming run through the Qualifier tournament as their spin twins and opening pair drive their domination.
The 1996 World Cup champions have been able to turn to spin wizards Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana to tear through their opponents as the top two wicket-takers at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Hasaranga has the most scalps at the tournament with 20 before the CWC23 Qualifier final against Netherlands, after starting with three consecutive five-wicket hauls to match the ODI record held by Pakistan speedster Waqar Younis.
Despite sitting out Sri Lanka’s last Super Six clash against West Indies, the leg-spinner is on track to lead all wicket-takers at the tournament just as he did at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup events in both 2021 and 2022.
Theekshana impressed in Hasaranga’s absence with 4/34 against West Indies, but has also worked well in tandem with his fellow tweaker while claiming 16 wickets at an average of just 10 across Sri Lanka’s past five ODIs.
With Hasaranga and Theekshana leading the attack, Sri Lanka have limited all but West Indies to totals under 200 in their seven matches so far at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Openers Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne have wielded similar damage with the willow and are behind only Sean Williams for the most runs at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier after the Zimbabwe veteran went on one of the all-time great ODI scoring streaks.
Nissanka has just notched back-to-back centuries after a couple of earlier fifties to reach 394 runs at the tournament, while Karunaratne has one ton and three half-centuries in his total of 369.
Their opening stands at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier against all but their fellow finalists have set the platform for much of Sri Lanka's success with an average 114 runs, including an unbroken 100 in a 10-wicket triumph over Oman.
The duo's only opening partnership that failed to make an impact was curiously against Netherlands when Logan van Beek dismissed Nissanka with the first ball of the match.
With formidable combinations leading the way, Sri Lanka’s victories at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier have come by 10 (Oman), nine (Zimbabwe) and eight wickets (West Indies), while their margins in terms of runs have included 175 (UAE), 133 (Ireland) and 82 (Scotland).
The closest the tournament pacesetters have been pushed was when Netherlands were 127/4 while chasing a modest target of 214, but then lost 6/65 to fall 21 runs short.
While Sri Lanka boast several of the standout batters and bowlers at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier, Netherlands have had a more even spread of contributors that will be hoping for a first-ever ODI victory over their final opponents.
Scott Edwards, Vikramjit Singh, Max O’Dowd, Wesley Barresi and Teja Nidamanuru each have multiple scores beyond 50 at the tournament, but it is the Netherlands’ X-factor performers that have stood taller whenever the stakes rise.
Bas de Leede became just the fifth player to take five wickets and score a century in an ODI when ensuring Netherlands snatched a Cricket World Cup spot from Scotland, and the side's leading wicket-taker at the tournament has also impressed when bowling at the death.
Netherlands can also call on van Beek when the game is on the line, especially after the all-rounder set a new benchmark with 30 runs in a Super Over to secure what ultimately proved to be crucial Super Six points from West Indies.
With Sri Lanka and Netherlands already sure of their spots at the Cricket World Cup, the CWC23 Qualifier final looms as a test of the steady against the sensational as both teams start to cast an eye toward the showpiece event in India later this year.