Sri Lanka qualify for World Cup 2023
Sri Lankan players celebrate a wicket during their World Cup 2023 qualifier match against Zimbabwe in Harare on Sunday (July 2). Photo: Twitter/ICC

World Cup 2023: Sri Lanka qualify with win over Zimbabwe in Harare

Opener Pathum Nissanka anchored the chase with a stylish century after spinner Maheesh Theekshana grabbed four wickets as Sri Lanka thrashed hosts Zimbabwe by nine wickets to ensure qualification in the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup 2023 in India, starting October 5.

After Chennai Super Kings spinner Theekshana took 4 for 25 to effect a middle-order collapse to bowl out Zimbabwe for 165 in 32.2 overs, right-handed Nissanka scored unbeaten 101 off 102 balls with the help of 14 boundaries as Sri Lanka knocked off the paltry target in 33.1 overs.

Sri Lanka’s victory took them to eight points and even if they lose their final Super Six encounter, the champions of the 1996 edition are assured of a top-two finish.

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“See coming for the qualifiers. It’s always tough but still, if you go through the process…and we know with the team we got, we are going to qualify for the World Cup. Credit to the other teams; they played really well in the tournament. Some other teams gave us some good fights but still, we are the better side,” Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka said after the match.

For Zimbabwe, it will be important to beat Scotland on Tuesday and clinch the second spot available. In case the hosts lose to Scotland, they will have to pray that Scotland lose by a big margin to the Netherlands and they qualify by virtue of a better net run-rate.

Sunday’s defeat dented Zimbabwe’s net run-rate (+0.030) as it is currently inferior compared to Scotland (+0.188).

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Once Sri Lanka opted to field, new ball bowler Dilshan Madushanka (3/15 in 5 overs) in his opening spell rocked the Zimbabwe top-order reducing them to 30 for 3 inside the first powerplay.

In-form Sean Williams (56) and Sikandar Raza (31) however steadied the ship with a 68-run fourth-wicket stand.

However, it was Theekshana, who then ran through middle and lower-middle-order as wickets tumbled like nine pins. He breached through Williams and Ryan Burls (16) defence with sharp turners to set up an easy win for Sri Lanka.

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The last seven wickets went for 67 runs.

The chase was always a cakewalk as Nissanka attacked at one end while Dimuth Karunaratne (30 off 56 balls) dropped anchor at the other during their 103-run opening stand.

Watching Nissanka clobber the home team bowlers, Kusal Mendis (25 not out, 42 balls) also gave the bulk of the strike to his younger partner, who finished the match with a boundary and also reached his second ODI hundred with the same stroke.

“It was a much-needed thing for Sri Lanka to play on that big stage. World Cup ahead is the main focus and main target for us. So we are waiting to deliver there as well,” the skipper concluded.

Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 165 in 32.5 overs (San Williams 56, Sikandar Raza 31, Maheesh Theekshana 4/25, Dilshan Madushanka 3/15). Sri Lanka 169/1 in 33.1 overs (Pathum Nissanka 101 not out).

(With agency inputs)

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