New Zealand thrash Sri Lanka to push Pakistan and Afghanistan towards World Cup exit

Black Caps as good as through to rematch of 2019 semi-final against India after five-wicket win in Bengaluru

New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra on his way to 42 against Sri Lanka. Reuters
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Pakistan and Afghanistan fans were hoping for a favour from Sri Lanka. They should know by now they cannot be relied on.

They could at least have put up a fight. Instead, the beleaguered Sri Lankans subsided to such a hefty defeat against New Zealand, it has all but settled the World Cup semi-final places with four matches still left to play.

It was a hammering from start to finish, and ended with the Black Caps strolling to a five-wicket win with nearly 27 overs to spare in Bengaluru.

It has basically rendered the game between Afghanistan and South Africa tomorrow as meaningless. The same with Australia v Bangladesh, Pakistan v England and India v Netherlands.

The Afghans and Pakistan can still match the points tally of New Zealand, but it would take something fanciful for either to overhaul their net run rate.

At 0.74, the Kiwis’ NRR is 0.7 superior to that of Pakistan and 1.08 better than Afghanistan, ahead of the final group game for those two sides.

It means Afghanistan need to win by 438 runs against second-placed South Africa to surpass New Zealand on NRR. Pakistan have to win by 287 or, chase what England make in two or three overs. All equally far-fetched.

When those two sides needed something to go their way, what they saw was another entirely supine display by the Sri Lankans.

So poor has their form been in recent months, it has felt like Sri Lanka have been protesting against the continuation of ODI cricket, rather than trying to prolong its life. Twice in their previous nine ODIs they failed to bat through 20 overs.

They appeared set for the same fate at the start of this one, too. They were five down inside 10 overs, and seven down within 19.

At least there were some positives. Angelo Mathews made it to the wicket on time for his go with the bat, even if he only stayed long enough to make 16.

And they did manage to make it as far as 46.4 overs, but they required a last-pair rearguard to get them that far. Maheesh Theekshana, the No 9, and No 11 Dilshan Madushanka eked out 43 in 14 overs.

Despite capitulating to 171 all out, they were able to celebrate the fastest individual half century of the competition.

Remarkably, Kusal Perera’s 22-ball effort was the fastest of a tournament in which the fastest hundred record in World Cup history has been broken twice – by Aiden Markram and Glenn Maxwell.

He was dropped, by Tom Latham off Tim Southee, on nought, on the 10th ball of the match.

Latham enjoyed immediate respite. He caught Pathum Nissanka off the following delivery, and Sri Lanka were 32 for three not long after. In taking three for 32, Trent Boult was the player of the match.

With such a paltry target, New Zealand knew they could press on the accelerator to try to extend the gap between them and Pakistan.

They raced to the win within 23.2 overs, with Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell each posting scores in the 40s.

They are now more or less assured of extending their record of appearing in every 50-over World Cup semi-final since 2003.

In making a dapper 32-ball 42, Ravindra leapfrogged Quinton de Kock at the top of the run charts for the tournament.

It has been a breakout tournament for the left-handed all-rounder, and his name reverberated around the stands again.

“It's a pretty surreal feeling,” said Ravindra, who was born in New Zealand to Indian parents.

“I’m grateful for the support, especially playing in Bangalore. Having the crowd chanting my name is something I will never take for granted.”

Updated: November 09, 2023, 3:36 PM