Pakistan could leapfrog England and move into the top four of the 2019 Cricket World Cup standings if they hand Afghanistan an eighth successive defeat, a day after Sri Lanka’s own hopes of reaching the top four were dented after a nine-wicket hammering by South Africa at Chester-le-Street.
Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals, a number of their batsmen bogged down on a slow pitch as they posted 203 all out after 49.3 overs.
The paltry target provided few problems for Hashim Amla (80 not out) and Faf Du Plessis (96no) in a 175-run partnership which carried the Proteas, already eliminated from contention for the knockout stages, to a thumping nine-wicket win with 12.4 overs to spare.
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Dimuth Karunaratne was frustrated at his side’s inability to rotate the strike after their semi-final hopes were left hanging by a thread in Durham on Friday.
In a must-win ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup clash with South Africa at Chester-le-Street, Sri Lanka fell to 203 all out and Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla guided the already-eliminated Proteas to a nine-wicket win.
Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando laid a decent platform in the first powerplay, but thereafter no batsmen kicked on as the innings ground to a halt.
Sri Lanka – who shocked England so spectacularly in Leeds last week – must now beat West Indies and India in their final two games if they are to stand any chance of making the final four.
But even then, they will need England, Pakistan and Bangladesh’s results to go their way and skipper Karunaratne admitted his side only had themselves to blame.
“It was a must win game for us, it was a pretty good wicket and we couldn’t get a good total on the board,” he said.
“I think the disappointing thing was Avishka and Kusal batted really well, but we couldn’t rotate and there were a lot of dot balls. Those are the main things why we ended up with 200 runs.”
And Karunaratne, who himself was dismissed with the first ball of the match, admitted his side must learn from the way du Plessis and Amla went about the chase.
Sri Lanka are back in action here on Monday against the West Indies and need two wins from two to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
“Faf did a great job, he put all the fielders in the right places, made us go for big shots,” added Karunaratne
“After the powerplay until the 27th over, they only put two fielders outside and put good pressure on us.
“We were going for the big shots and that’s why wickets were falling.
“The wicket was getting better and better in the later part.
“If you get a start you have to go for a big one. Faf and Hashim batted really well in a tough period then when you get set, you have to keep batting and batting.
“Once they were set they didn’t go for big shots, they kept rotating the strike. That’s what I expect from my batsmen.”
Seamer Nuwan Pradeep is suffering from chicken pox but Karunaratne is still feeling confident.
He added: “We have to win our two matches, compete really good. We have to work hard at the batting, bowling and every department and do well in those matches.”
Kane Williamson insists he is not obsessing about Australian danger man David Warner ahead their showdown at Lord’s.
New Zealand’s captain suffered his first defeat at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup as the Black Caps found themselves on the wrong side of a six wicket loss to Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
And he’ll be looking to bounce straight back against Australia in what promises to be a day/night thriller at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
With 500 runs to his name, no batsmen has eclipsed the runs made by Warner in recent weeks, with Williamson fifth in the standings with 414 from just five innings.
Warner’s danger with bat in hand is therefore clear for all to see – but the New Zealand captain knows better than most just how threatening he can be.
The two were in the same dugout for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this year’s Indian Premier League, though Williamson knows focusing on just one Australian batsman is not the way to go.
“Day-in, day-out, he’s one of the top players for a reason,” he said. “He’s able to adjust to conditions and continued to improve his game.
“Warner has been instrumental on the Australian side, he’s adapted his game and been able to help put his side in a position of strength.
“We know he’s a very good player but we want to worry about us and what we want to achieve with the ball in hand, with the bat, and always importantly for us, it’s how we operate with our attitude in the field.”
Williamson knows a win at Lord’s would guarantee New Zealand’s place in the final four – Australia have already banked their slot – with a game to play, their final group fixture a date with England at Chester-le-Street.
And he’s expecting a red-hot atmosphere in addition to red-hot temperatures, with forecasters predicting 30 degrees and rising in London.
“Usually you come to Lord’s and there’s a quiet murmur when you play England but it might be a little bit different when you have Kiwis and Australians filling out the seats,” he added.
“It will be a really good atmosphere and I know for a fact that both teams are just looking forward to getting into the cricket.
“Australia have been playing really good cricket but when you come to a World Cup, anybody can beat anybody. We’ve seen that on different occasions already in this tournament.
“It’s going to be a great occasion. It always is when you have the opportunity to play Australia, but obviously here at this ground it’s an extra exciting prospect.”