Sri Lanka is through to the next stage of the Twenty20 World Cup after fending off the Netherlands to win by 16 runs.
Led by an equal career-best 79 from Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka powered to 6-162 after electing to bat first at Geelong’s Kardinia Park on Thursday.
Netherlands opener Max O’Dowd hit a superb unbeaten 71, taking the chase to the final over, but the Dutch fell short and the enthusiastic Sri Lankan crowd left happy.
The Lions’ second win of the qualifying part of tournament guarantees them a passage through to the Super 12 stage, despite their shock loss to Namibia in the opening match.
Namibia can secure its own spot among cricket’s heavyweights if it accounts for winless UAE in the second game at Geelong on Thursday.
If the UAE breaks through for its first win, then the Netherlands will join Sri Lanka in the next round after they secured two victories from their three qualifying games.
Sri Lanka was made to work hard for their second win of the World Cup, with the Dutch giving a brave account of themselves with bat and ball.
Mendis was the clear standout for the Lions to claim player-of-the-match honours, with Charith Asalanka striking a crucial 31 as Sri Lanka recorded its highest total of the tournament.
Dutch quick Paul van Meekeren steamrolled opener Pathum Nissanka (14) and Dhananjaya de Silva (0) in consecutive balls nearing 150km/h to be on a hat-trick.
Spinner Wanindu Hasaranga caused major problems for the Netherlands batters to claim figures of 3-28.
Earlier, Sri Lanka suffered a big double blow, with paceman Dushmantha Chameera and batsman Danushka Gunathilaka sent home because of injury.
Chameera tore through the UAE top order in Tuesday night’s win with three wickets, but he pulled up as he ran in to bowl later in the innings.
He immediately hobbled off the field and is out with a torn left calf muscle.
Kasun Rajitha, who is in Sri Lanka, is his replacement.
Gunathilaka sat out the UAE game due to a left hamstring tear, with travelling reserve Ashen Bandara taking his place.