Sadeera Samarawickrama displayed unwavering composure in his unbeaten half-century as he guided Sri Lanka to a clinical five-wicket win over the Netherlands and secure their first victory in this World Cup in Lucknow on Saturday.
South African-born Sybrand Engelbrecht (70) and Logan van Beek (59) led a remarkable recovery with maiden half-centuries to help the Netherlands post a fighting 262 after they opted to bat.
In reply, Dutch off-spinner Aryan Dutt (3/44) snared Kusal Perera (5) and skipper Kusal Mendis (8) inside the powerplay, but Sri Lanka never lost sight of the target on a dry and spinning Ekana pitch with Samarawickrama anchoring their chase without taking any risks.
Lending solidity to the middle-order, Samarawickrama, who slammed a maiden ODI hundred against Pakistan earlier, got to a well-deserved half-century — his sixth in ODIs — in 53 balls en route to his unbeaten knock of 91 to seal Sri Lanka’s chase with 10 balls to spare.
This was bottom-placed Sri Lanka’s first win after enduring three losses on the trot in the 10-team showpiece event.
Pathum Nissanka (54; 52b) came up with a third straight half-century to set it up before Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka took the chase away from the Netherlands in a 77-run fourth-wicket stand.
For the Dutch bowlers, the execution was missing unlike their upset win over South Africa at Dharamsala three days back.
They either strayed on the leg, or bowled wide on the off-stump even as the Lankan batters were happy to take singles and twos to keep the required run-rate near the five-run mark.
The left-handed Asalanka hit two boundaries and the only six of the innings when he broke the shackles and stepped out to punish Dutt.
Just when the Lankan duo of Samarawickrama and Asalanka was in cruise mode, Dutt broke the partnership cleaning up the left-hander in his last over that also pumped up the Dutch camp.
But without any scoreboard pressure — 82 required off 104 balls — the seasoned Dhananjaya de Silva played sensibly, rotating the strike to give the well-set Samarawickrama more opportunities.