After a four-game losing streak, New Zealand bounced back with a win against Sri Lanka at the World Cup. This victory all but guarantees their spot in the semi-finals.
Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra, the opening batters, made scores of 45 and 42 respectively, leading New Zealand’s chase of 172 with a strong start. Daryl Mitchell’s contribution of 43 runs helped bring them close to victory before they ultimately won in 23.2 overs.
New Zealand ended with 10 points and is currently in first place to secure the final spot in the semi-finals alongside India, South Africa, and Australia. In order for Pakistan to surpass New Zealand’s net run rate and qualify, they will have to defeat England by an extremely large margin. Afghanistan, who had a small chance of making it to the knockout stage, is facing a similar scenario as their neighboring team before their match against South Africa.
“The New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson, praised the team’s strong performance. He acknowledged that the early wickets and spin posed a challenge during the middle overs, and that the pitch significantly slowed down later in the game. However, Williamson was pleased with the team’s determination in the chase and overall performance. The team had initially prepared for potential weather disruptions, but ultimately did not encounter any. Such uncertainties can be difficult to predict.”
Trent Boult, a fast bowler, and Mitchell Santner, a left-arm spinner, made crucial breakthroughs as Sri Lanka struggled to reach a total of 171 runs. This was after a strong start by Kusal Perera, who scored 51 runs, and a determined effort by Maheesh Theekshana, who remained unbeaten with 38 runs. “It feels good to have success early on. This was a crucial game that we needed to win, so I am happy with the outcome,” said Boult, who became the sixth player to reach 600 international wickets and was named man of the match.
Assuming that there is no unexpected turn of events in Pakistan’s final match, New Zealand will be facing the home team, India, in the semi-finals. Boult expressed that everyone is eager to compete against the formidable home team and the team is anticipating the match. Playing against India in the semi-finals will be a thrilling experience as they have been playing exceptionally well.
Williamson’s decision to bowl after winning the toss paid off early, as Boult (three for 37) and Tim Southee (one for 52) tore through the Sri Lanka top order to leave them in some trouble at 32 for three inside five overs. Perera, who was dropped on nought by Tom Latham in the second over, punished New Zealand with a 22-ball fifty but lost another partner when Boult trapped Charith Asalanka lbw to turn up the heat on the 1996 champions.
The recently recovered Lockie Ferguson (2/35) took a wicket in his second over, getting rid of the attacking Perera. This led to Sri Lanka’s downfall as they reached a score of 70 for five before ultimately being all out in the 47th over for a low total. Santner (2/22) and Ravindra (2/21) also contributed to the team’s success.
During a critical period of the game, Santner limited the progress of Sri Lanka and dismissed Angelo Mathews (16) and Dhananjaya de Silva (19), while Theekshana and Dilshan Madushanka (19) caused frustration for New Zealand with their 43-run partnership for the 10th wicket.
“After the first 10 overs, our team captain Kusal Mendis stated that we lost three to four wickets and faced difficulties with our batting. As a result, we have dropped to ninth place. He also mentioned that if we had formed a strong partnership during the middle overs, we could have potentially scored over 300 runs on this pitch.”