T20 World Cup 2021: Sri Lanka cruise to victory over Namibia in world cup opener
Source: Indranil Mukherjee - Getty Images 

Sri Lanka overcame an early wobble with the bat to brush aside Namibia with dominant 7 wicket victory in the opening match of their 2021 T20 World cup campaign at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. 

Dasun Shanaka's side had looked in a spot of trouble after falling to 26-3 in their pursuit of 96 before a 74 run partnership between Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa eventually brought the Lions home with 49 balls to spare. 

Earlier in the day Maheesh Theekshana starred with the ball for the Sri Lankan's, taking 3-25 as Namibia collapsed from 68-2 to 96 all-out - a total that never looked anywhere near enough on a flat wicket in Abu Dhabi. 

Theekshana shines as inexperienced Namibian batting crumbles 

Coming into the tournament as somewhat of an unknown quantity due to the absence of key players Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella because of suspension, it was unclear how Sri Lanka would fare in the U.A.E. 

After putting the associate nation into bat however, they wasted little time taking the upper hand during their opening encounter of the tournament - Theekshana taking two wickets during the powerplay, leaving Namibia 29-2 after six overs.

Craig Williams and captain Gerhard Erasmus did find some success in rebuilding the innings for the African side, eventually brining the score up to 68 before Erasmus fell for 20 - caught in the deep off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara in the 13th over.

Williams would follow the skipper back to the pavilion not long after, getting pinned lbw by Wanindu Hasaranga for the innings high score of 29 and sparking a quite stunning batting collapse. 

The Namibian's would lose their final seven wickets for just 23 runs, with the highlight of the carnage being being a quite stunning, one handed catch at mid-off from Shanaka to dismiss Ruben Trumpelmann in the 19th over. 

As well as Theekshana, Kumara also impressed finishing with figures of 2-9 from his 3.3 overs as Sri Lanka blew away Namibia's batting. 

Rajapaksa stays calm as Sri Lanka survive stumble to comfortably complete chase 

Despite being set a relatively straight forward target, Micky Arthur's side initially made it appear anything but as they lost three wickets inside the opening powerplay. 

Kusal Perera being the first to go, caught by JJ Smit after hitting the ball straight up into the air off the bowling of Trumpelmann for 11 and Pathum Nissanka and Dinesh Chandimal both departing shortly after, eventually leaving Sri Lanka 26-3 after 5.3 overs. 

In spite of the early set back order seemed to be resorted once Fernando was joined at the crease by Rajapaksa, with the two putting together a game winning partnership that eventually saw the side comfortably surpass Namibia's 96 during the innings 14th over. 

Rajapaksa hitting the winning runs with a crunching six over the deep point boundary off the bowling off Jan Frylinck - finishing his innings 42 not out off 27 deliveries with Fernando unbeaten on 30 at the other end. 

The result sends Sri Lanka to the top of group A and leaves them likely only one more win away from securing a spot in the next group stage of the tournament - a result they will hope to achieve when they take on Ireland in their next game on Wednesday, again in Abu Dhabi. 

Namibia on the other hand will likely require a victory from their next game against the Netherlands on Wednesday if they are to have any chance of advancing to the next phase of the T20 World Cup. 

 

 

  

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