Kushal Mendis’ unbeaten 68 leads Sri Lanka home against Ireland

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Kusal Mendis’ 43-ball 68 lifted Sri Lanka to a clinical 9-wicket victory in their opening Super 12 match of the T20 World Cup 2022 against Ireland on Sunday. The Lankese, plagued by injuries and reaching the next stage after a shock loss to Namibia, displayed the kind of form that helped them beat India and Pakistan to the Asian Cup title last month with ball and bat. .

Put in pursuit 133 after an excellent bowling performance, Mendis bowled a third successive winning innings after his heroism against the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands, keeping his aggressive mindset and looking for the Irish bowling attack early on. The Lankans were 50 without a loss on the power play also thanks to Dhananjay de Silva’s 31 of 25, and Mendis completed the chase along with Charith Asalanka’s 31 of 22.

There have been questions about Mendis’ ability to lead Sri Lanka’s batting line-up despite all the injuries, but he has been instrumental in the Lankans’ resurgence at the World Cup following the surprise loss to Namibia. His approach has been so measured that he has hardly looked out of place whenever he takes a risk, even when he chooses not to, which in itself is a huge risk in T20 cricket.

His combination of pragmatism and aggressiveness was perfect for a low-run chase like the one in Hobart on Sunday, punctuated by the two sixes he smashed into the side of the leg in 15th. During the last three innings, he has shown that he not only has Sri Lanka’s batting on his shoulders, but he is also one of the best batsmen in this year’s World Cup.

SL ruthless with the ball

Mendis, de Silva and Asalanka may have gone on a ruthless run, but Sri Lanka’s victory rested on their outstanding performance with the ball in the opening innings.

Paul Stirling and Andy Balbirnie had shown their destructive power in the opening power play when they knocked out the West Indies earlier this week. But with the initial spells of Binura Fernando and Lahiru Kumara it left no room for a similar start. The latter only bowled two overs, but in bringing down Ireland captain Balbirnie and stopping the first few runs, his contribution was immense.

Ireland can hit deep, and their middle-order batsman has won them quite a few games, most recently an incredible partnership between George Dockrell and Curtis Campher, the latter hitting a 36-ball 72, gave them a crucial win over Scotland last week. But the Sri Lankan spinners, dangerous as ever, did not allow Ireland any room to manoeuvre.

Maheesh Theekshana had even picked up a wicket inside the power play, and Ireland’s top-to-bottom batting order found him hard to pick, and Wanindu Hasiranga, who has become their most potent middle-order threat, picked up two again. , even if he leaked 25 runs in the process.

Sri Lanka’s batting order may be resting on the laurels of Kusal Mendis at the moment, but their bowling attack is every bit as formidable as a unit, with each of them bowling with wickets and good economy at the right time. His loss to Namibia may have been worrying, but the clinical win over Ireland is further proof that they remain a threat to the top teams in the World Cup.

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