Sri Lanka geared up for their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 final against the Netherlands with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over West Indies.
Opening batters Pathum Nissanka (104) and Dimuth Karunaratne (83) did the bulk of the damage to chase down 243 after Keacy Carty (87) had dragged Windies to a respectable target.
Victory means Sri Lanka remain unbeaten in Zimbabwe, and now face one final hurdle in Netherlands to be crowned Qualifier champions.
Openers fire Sri Lanka to victory
Pathum Nissanka hit the third ODI century of his career as Sri Lanka cruised to an eight-wicket victory over West Indies.
Nissanka hit 104 runs off 113 balls as part of a 190-run opening stand with Dimuth Karunaratne that took the game away from West Indies.
Kusal Mendis (34) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (17) did the rest to easily reach their target of 244, for which Windies had Keacy Carty (87) to thank after Maheesh Theekshana (4/34) had ripped through much of their top order.
West Indies had started strongly, racing to 31 from their first four overs before Theekshana conceded just two from his first over and cleaned up Brandon King (10) in his second.
The spinner struck again in his third, Shamarh Brooks (2) nicking behind before captain Shai Hope (2) became his third victim from his fourth over, pinned leg before.
Opener Johnson Charles (39) was next back to the hutch an over later, trapped leg before by Matheesha Pathirana to leave Windies floundering on 62 for four.
But Carty and Nicholas Pooran (14) led the fightback, as the pair stopped the flurry of wickets until Dushan Hemantha accounted for Pooran to further drag West Indies into the mire at 81 for five.
Carty, having survived a dropped catch on nine, kept the scoreboard ticking over and dragged his side to 123 for seven by the time Sahan Arachchige bowled Kyle Mayers (18) and Hemantha trapped Roston Chase (1) leg before.
Late contributions from Romario Shepherd (26) and Kevin Sinclair (25) then pulled Windies towards 250 before Carty fell 12 balls from the end to leave his side 243 all out.
Having perhaps been disappointed to let West Indies reach almost 250, Sri Lanka began their chase quickly, bringing up 50 inside nine overs before Nissanka reached his 10th ODI half century in as many balls in the 16th over.
Opening partner Karunaratne soon followed, bringing up his 50 with four as Sri Lanka cantered towards their total.
Windies tried mightily to break the partnership, rotating through six bowlers in search of a way through, but the pair proved impenetrable as they brought up the 150 stand in the 28th over.
Nissanka then brought up his century with just under 20 overs remaining before eventually holing out to mid-wicket off the bowling of Kevin Sinclair.
But the fall of the first wicket failed to stem the flow of runs, as Mendis picked up the scoring baton, bringing up the 200 with a four before Karunaratne was trapped leg before by Akeal Hosein.
It left Mendis and Samarawickrama to bring the chase home, doing so in style with 34 balls remaining to send Sri Lanka into Sunday’s final with their unbeaten record intact.
Sri Lanka and Netherlands face off in final
After almost a month of absorbing action, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 comes to a close on Sunday, as Sri Lanka and the Netherlands fight it out for the right to be crowned champions.
Both sides have already claimed their main prize, a place in India next October for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 but neither will want to end their time in Zimbabwe with defeat.
Sri Lanka were comfortable victors when the two sides met in the Super Six just over a week ago, but Netherlands are fresh from their thrilling victory over Scotland and will hope their momentum can help them to victory.
Scores in brief
Sri Lanka beat West Indies by eight wickets at Harare Sports Club, Harare
West Indies 243 all out in 48.1 overs (Keacy Carty 87, Johnson Charles 39; Maheesh Theekshana 4/34, Dushan Hemantha 2/49)
Sri Lanka 244/2 in 44.2 overs (Pathum Nissanka 104, Dimuth Karunaratne 83; Kevin Sinclair 1/52, Akeal Hosein 1/54)
Sunday 9 July – Fixtures
Sri Lanka v Netherlands at Harare Sports Club