Netherlands hope for a miracle against despondent Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Match details

Netherlands vs Sri Lanka
Gros Islet, 8.30pm local

Big picture

Well, where do you go from here? For Sri Lanka, safe to say, this is nowhere near where they would have wanted to be, as yet another major ICC tournament goes by with them toiling with little more than pride to play for.

This turn of events might rankle even more considering that coming into this tournament there had been a quiet confidence in the Sri Lankan camp, particularly of positive results against one or both of South Africa and Bangladesh – certainly the latter whom they recently beat in T20Is – as well a deep run in the tournament. But things didn’t quite work out that way, and following a washout against Nepal, they are now faced with the very real prospect/ignominy of ending at the bottom of their group with not even a win to their name.

It’s also their final ICC tournament until their home T20 World Cup in 2026 – there’s a Champions Trophy next year but they missed out on qualification – so regardless of the result, there will no doubt be an inquisition back home into the state of white-ball cricket.

As for the Netherlands, there is still a chance to qualify for Super Eight, but it requires a dominant win against Sri Lanka, as well as Nepal beating Bangladesh.

If this scenario had been posited a couple of years ago, it’s safe to say Bangladesh would have been pretty relaxed, but such has been the upward trajectory of the Associate members, especially at this tournament, such upsets are not nearly as surprising as they once might have been.

Nepal’s agonising defeat to South Africa allied with Sri Lanka’s dismal showing so far in this tournament has lent itself further to these unlikely scenarios, but there’s more to it. While Sri Lanka have Test tours of England and South Africa scheduled for the year following this campaign, the failure to qualify for the Dutch means their cricket for the foreseeable future is done, so they’re certainly not in want of added motivation. With them playing after Bangladesh and Nepal, they will go in knowing exactly what’s needed of them.

In terms of head-to-head records, Sri Lanka have never lost to Netherlands, but the more recent encounters haven’t been as one-sided as the scorecards might suggest.

Form guide

Netherlands LLWLL (Last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLWLW

In the spotlight – Aryan Dutt and Angelo Mathews

Aryan Dutt had impressed with a three-wicket haul in the last encounter between these two sides – at last year’s ODI World Cup. While he was overlooked in the more seamer-friendly conditions of Dallas and New York, he found his way back into the side against Bangladesh in Kingstown. With spin set to play a key role in Gros Islet, Dutt’s control and variation could prove pivotal in the powerplay to expose Sri Lanka’s soft middle order.

When Angelo Mathews last played at Gros Islet, his career was in its infancy. Then too it was during a T20 World Cup, but Sri Lanka Cricket – at least on the field – was in a better place. Now 14 years later, he is back as an ageing stalwart with his team having been eliminated at the first hurdle. He has also struggled to keep up with the more aggressive approach T20 cricket demands – his career strike rate stalling at 119.48, well below the standard bearers of the format. With Sri Lanka’s power-hitters currently restricted to their top three and an out-of-form Dasun Shanaka, they need Mathews to show he’s capable of adapting to the times.

Team news – spin to win?

Spin-bowling allrounder Saqib Zulfiqar could come into the XI should the Netherlands opt for an extra spinner.

Netherlands (probable XI): 1 Michael Levitt, 2 Max O’Dowd, 3 Vikramjit Singh, 4 Sybrand Engelbrecht, 5 Scott Edwards (capt, wk), 6 Bas de Leede, 7 Logan van Beek, 8 Tim Pringle/Saqib Zulfiqar, 9 Aryan Dutt, 10 Paul van Meekeren, 11 Vivian Kingma

If Sri Lanka want an extra spinner, they could hand allrounder Dunith Wellalage a T20I debut.

Sri Lanka (probable XI): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Kamindu Mendis, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga (capt), 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Matheesha Pathirana, 11 Nuwan Thushara

Pitch and conditions

There were runs aplenty in the Australia-Scotland game, which will be encouraging for both sets of batters but Australia’s deployment of three spinners might provide some indication as to the most effective tactic on this Gros Islet pitch. As for the weather, there is a possibility of rain later in the night.

Stats that matter

  • Sri Lanka have a 9-0 win-loss record against the Netherlands in limited-overs cricket.
  • Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka are the only Sri Lankan batters to average above 25 and have a strike rate of above 130 in T20Is since January 2023.
  • The average first-innings score at Gros Islet is 161.

Quotes

“They gave us great support, no matter where we play. Whether it was in Sri Lanka or even here, there were a lot supporting us. And I feel very sorry as we couldn’t do anything for them. I want to apologise for that.”
Angelo Mathews has a message for the fans

“For our guys, it’s an awesome opportunity to play cricket in different parts of the world. It’s something we thrive off. We love playing in different conditions in different parts of the world. Obviously, it’s short breaks between games but that’s just part of how these World Cups go and our guys love that.”
Scott Edwards says his side has embraced the travel throughout the tournament

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