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Boult nearly takes New Zealand to the semifinals; SL’s chances of winning the Champions Trophy dwindle

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Sri Lanka 171 (Perera 51, Boult 3-37, Ravindra 2-21) lost to New Zealand 172 for 5 (Conway 45, Mitchell 43, Mathews 2-29) by six wickets.

With 160 balls remaining, New Zealand’s commanding five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru virtually guaranteed them a spot in the World Cup semi-final against India. As a result, they now have 10 points and a net run rate (NRR) of 0.743. Pakistan must now defeat England by 287 runs, and Afghanistan must defeat South Africa by an even more astounding 438 runs in order to surpass New Zealand’s NRR.

Pakistan would not be able to qualify if they were to chase.

Due to their narrow loss to New Zealand, Sri Lanka is currently ranked ninth and is so ineligible for the 2025 Champions Trophy. In order for their respective NRRs to fall below Sri Lanka’s, they now need to lose against either Bangladesh or England, and the Netherlands must also lose to India.

An excellent all-around bat and ball performance led to New Zealand’s victory. Winning the toss and sending Sri Lanka in seemed to be the most sensible method to assure not only an NRR-boosting victory but also a buffer against any rain interruptions and DLS interventions, even though the possibility of rain in Bengaluru ultimately proved to be a misleading herring.

Thus it turned out. Even though several late wickets were lost, Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, and Daryl Mitchell all contributed with fourties to help easily defeat Sri Lanka’s 171 total.

Ravindra and Conway put on an innings-long stand of 86 on a wicket that was even better to bat on under lights, but Mitchell’s 43 off just 31 balls sealed the victory. Although none of the three managed to finish, the victory was always assured.

The fact that it was ultimately so simple was due to Sri Lanka’s erratic batting performance and strong bowling effort. While Lockie Ferguson, Mitchell Santner, and Ravindra all took two wickets apiece for New Zealand, Trent Boult’s 3 for 37 was the key that put his team ahead of Sri Lanka’s innings and won him Player-of-the-Match.

New Zealand was so dominant that they managed to win with such ease, even though they lost three catches. The first saw Kusal Perera scoreless after Tom Latham grassed a simple catch behind. But a ball later, Latham had his chance at atonement when Pathum Nissanka broke through for a much easier opportunity.

A few overs later, Kusal Mendis was out, aiming to smash over midwicket and slicing a leading edge to deep third. Soon after, Sadeera Samarawickrama was next to fall, edging through to Mitchell at first slip. The outstanding Boult took both of those wickets, bringing his World Cup total above 50. He finished the match with a 52-wicket total.

However, Perera performed like a one-man army, hitting boundaries all over the Chinnaswamy Stadium and punishing New Zealand for that early drop, even as wickets went at one end. Tim Southee hit two sixes over long-on to cap off an aggressive ball-striking session that saw him reach 50 off just 22 deliveries, which is tied for second-fastest by a Sri Lankan in ODI World Cup history.

But after a well-considered review, Charith Asalanka was declared leg before wicket from Boult an over later. A few deliveries later, Perera fell, getting under a Ferguson delivery that was not full enough to drive and slicing it to cover.

At 70 for 5 in the tenth over, Sri Lanka was completely out of control when Dhananjaya de Silva and Angelo Mathews offered some semblance of fight. Thanks to Latham’s second wicket of the match and a difficult opportunity from Santner during the 34-run stand, Dhananjaya was also given a reprieve. But Santner’s cunning, composure, and nuanced pace changes proved to be too much for the two in the end.

In what may have been his final World Cup innings, if not ODI innings, Mathews was the first to fall, lunging forward at a ball that floated up and then sunk. He was unable to reach the pitch, and Mitchell’s outside edge was only scraped by the bounce and turn that took care of the rest. For Dhananjaya, it was a similar tale as Mitchell received another flighted package with a little extra bounce.

In just his second World Cup outing, Chamika Karunaratne did not perform much better, falling behind Ferguson. Maheesh Theekshana, in partnerships with Dushmantha Chameera and Dilshan Madushanka, provided the fight that was missing for the majority of the innings, although it still looked as though the innings would end quickly.

Theekshana faced 91 deliveries and played more balls than all of Sri Lanka’s top hitters put together. With the exception of Theekshana, Madushanka faced more balls than any other batter—48 in total.

Despite only scoring 58 runs over the course of 139 deliveries, Theekshana, the second-highest scorer of the innings, was undefeated at 38 as the ninth and tenth wicket stands held. It took until the 47th over for New Zealand to dismiss Sri Lanka after Ravindra found Madushanka’s edge for Latham to execute a crisp take, but Sri Lanka lost their eighth wicket in the 24th over.

After winning their first four games and then losing their next four, New Zealand had to work their way up to reach the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup, but this victory has all but guaranteed them a spot.

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