New Zealand all but assured of semi-final spot after crucial win


If the build-up to the clash was about the weather, it soon didn't matter as much as the New Zealand quicks ran amok in Bengaluru.

Kusal Perera stood out as the lone warrior in the Powerplay for Sri Lanka even as four of his mates perished in quick succession to some quality bowling from the Kiwis' new-ball bowlers.

New Zealand inch closer to semis after dominating win over Sri Lanka | Match Highlights | CWC23

Sri Lanka's hopes of Perera salvaging them from the ruckus fell in the Powerplay itself when Lockie Ferguson snared him with the left-hander attempting a big hit over the off-side.

Reduced to 70/5, Sri Lanka needed the experience of Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva to save them, but Mitchell Santner stepped in, sending back the duo in successive overs to put the Blackcaps well and truly on top. They eventually ambled along to 171, but New Zealand's rousing start with the bat all but sealed the contest.

New Zealand bowlers dominate with the ball in Bengaluru | Innings Highlights | CWC23

Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra were determined to make light work of Sri Lanka's attack and the first threat awaiting them was left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka, who had proved to be a menace in the Powerplay overs this tournament.

Devon Conway thwarts the Madushanka threat | CWC23

Conway survived a close caught-behind shout against Madushanka, but soon launched a scathing attack on him, one that saw the pacer go for seven boundaries against the New Zealand left-hander.

Conway negating Madushanka and Ravindra tackling the spinners with authority meant that Sri Lanka had no opening to exploit. 73 runs came in the first 10 overs, pacing the way for the Black Caps to chase down the target with ease.

Kusal Perera's belligerent half-century amidst Sri Lanka's collapse | CWC23

The breakthrough came when Dushmantha Chameera had Conway caught at mid-wicket for 45 in a maiden-wicket over. Maheesh Theekshana sent back Ravindra next over as Sri Lanka finally found a way into the deep New Zealand middle-order.

But Dary Mitchell struck back by smashing Chameera for a six and a four next over and then reverse-swept and slogged Theekshana to reveal more of his intent.

Mathews gave Sri Lanka a whisker of hope when he cleaned up Williamson in the 19th over to leave New Zealand at 130/3, but with less than fifty runs needed to ace the target, the fightback seemed too late.

Sri Lanka snare New Zealand's top five | CWC23

Things took a further turn as New Zealand lost Mark Chapman after a miscommunication with Mitchell. Mathews then got the big wicket of Mitchell himself as New Zealand lost their top five. But by then, New Zealand were only ten runs away from a win that could well ensure their semi-final spot.

Glenn Phillips hit back-to-back boundaries to seal the deal as New Zealand made their position in the top four of the points table more secure. Only a huge win for Pakistan or Afghanistan in their respective final clashes will see them miss out on a knockout spot.

New Zealand seal run-chase despite late hiccup | Innings Highlights | CWC23

Earlier, New Zealand made one change to the team that lost against Pakistan at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, with Ish Sodhi making way for Lockie Ferguson. Sri Lanka made a change of their own as Chamika Karunaratne replaced Kasun Rajitha.

Mitchell Santner breaks the backbone of Sri Lanka's middle-order | CWC23

Tim Southee struck early, sending back Pathum Nissanka a ball after he was dropped.

Perera was in the mood to go after the New Zealand attack and judiciously freed his arms despite the ball moving around. Fortune favoured him as Sri Lanka got off to a flier, making 30 runs in the first four overs.

Trent Boult shone with early wickets in pivotal spell | CWC23

Even when Boult sent back Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama in the fifth over, Perera didn't stop hammering the attack. He blasted Southee for four boundaries in an over and then added two more off Boult next over.

Kusal Perera takes on Tim Southee | CWC23

The fifty came up of a mere 22 balls, making it the fastest fifty by any player against New Zealand in the men's Cricket World Cup.

Boult, meanwhile, continued to cause mayhem at the other end, sending back the centurion from the previous game, Charith Asalanka, for eight.

With Perera dismissed next over, Sri Lanka's hopes fell flat and Santner's double strike in quick succession firmly put the nail on Sri Lanka's innings.

Trent Boult strikes twice to dent Sri Lanka early | CWC23

However, if that raised hopes for an early finish to Sri Lanka's innings, it was put to an end by Maheesh Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka, combining in a resistant tenth-wicket partnership to push Sri Lanka to a respectable total.

Theekshana, who has faced more than 20 balls in four of his six knocks at the 2023 World Cup, looked composed and determined again and he found an able company in Madushanka. The duo joined hands in the 33rd over and ensured the team batted till the 47th over, stitching together 43 valuable runs.

It didn't change things too much with New Zealand chasing down the target with five wickets to spare.

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It Takes One Day: Episode 41: preview of New Zealand v Sri Lanka at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 with Black Caps young gun Rachin Ravindra and ICC Digital Insider Radhakrishnan

The stakes could barely be higher for New Zealand as they take on Sri Lanka needing a victory to significantly boost their hopes of securing a place in the knockout stages of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.

New Zealand almost had one foot in the semi-finals when starting their campaign with four consecutive triumphs, but have since lost as many on the trot to now be equal with Pakistan and Afghanistan on eight points as each side has one group stage match left to play.

Kane Williamson's side enters the encounter with Sri Lanka sitting in the critical fourth spot due to holding an advantage of a superior net run rate compared to both of the other semi-final hopefuls.

But as the first of the trio to wrap up their group stage matches, the Black Caps will want to lift their net rate rate as high as possible and ideally out of reach of the chasers which will each start their remaining match knowing what they need to do to snatch fourth spot.

New Zealand can still hold out hope of progressing even if they lose to Sri Lanka, or if conditions force a no result to come into play, but will then be relying on both Pakistan and Afghanistan to end the group stage efforts without another win.

All-rounder and adventurer Glenn Phillips on his journey with New Zealand | CWC23

New Zealand all-rounder Glenn Phillips on making an impact in the middle-order and with the ball at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023

Sri Lanka also have plenty to play for despite sitting in ninth place in the Cricket World Cup standings and falling well short of semi-finals contention.

The 1996 champions will be focused on clinching a victory over New Zealand to perhaps give them a top-eight finish that would lock in a spot at the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.

New Zealand eye last semi-final spot in crunch clash with Sri Lanka | Match 41 Preview | CWC23

Match preview with New Zealand all-rounder Glenn Phillips and batting coach Luke Ronchi, and Sri Lanka assistant coach Naveed Nawaz, at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023

**New Zealand squad:**Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson (C), Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tom Latham, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult

**Sri Lanka squad:**Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis (C), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka.

Theekshana out to spin Sri Lanka into Champions Trophy | CWC23

Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana on stepping up for the side in the absence of star teammates at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023

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