ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
SL set to join Australia's group, Netherlands knocked out
Ireland and Namibia to face-off in a winner-takes-all match on Friday after Sri Lanka all but secured top spot in Group A
21 October 2021, 07:20 AM AEST
Sri Lanka have become the first side to qualify from the T20 World Cup first round stage following a resounding 70-run victory over Ireland.
They are set to enter Group 1 in the second phase, alongside Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and another qualifier.
The final team in Group 1 - which will be one of Scotland, Bangladesh and Oman - will be determined by the results of matches tonight.
Ireland's defeat leaves them facing an eliminator on Friday against Namibia, who defeated the Netherlands earlier on Wednesday to knock the Dutch out of the tournament.
Sri Lanka were on the ropes after lurching to 3-8 inside the first 10 balls in Abu Dhabi and were grateful for a decisive 123-run stand between Pathum Nissanka and Wanindu Hasaranga to subdue Ireland.
Nissanka struck 61 off 47 balls and Hasaranga top-scored with 71 from 47 while a useful cameo from captain Dasun Shanaka (21 not out from 11) ushered Sri Lanka to a formidable 7-171.
The trio were the only batsmen to reach double figures for Sri Lanka as Josh Little proved the stand-out bowler with 4-23 for Ireland, whose inability to contain Nissanka and Hasaranga in the middle overs was crucial.
"Of course it was a concern at eight for three, but they put on an awesome partnership," Shanaka said.
"Hasaranga at five is a plan coming in at the World Cup and it worked well for us," he said of the allrounder, who was named player-of-the-match.
Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals in response and while a 53-run partnership between captain Andy Balbirnie (41) and Curtis Campher (24) gave them brief hope, they subsided to 101 all out in 18.3 overs.
Campher had made history with four wickets in as many deliveries in Ireland's victory over the Dutch on Monday and he kept Ireland ticking over with the bat alongside Balbirnie after coming in at 3-32.
However, he was bowled by off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who took 3-17 from his four overs. Campher's dismissal marked the start of a collapse in which Ireland lost their last seven wickets for the addition of just 16 runs.
Sri Lanka, winners in 2014 and twice runners-up, must defeat Netherlands on Friday to absolutely guarantee top spot, but their net run rate is so superior to the rest of the group that even a narrow defeat is likely to be sufficient to finish first.
Earlier, Namibia completed their highest ever successful run chase in T20 internationals to keep their hopes alive of making the next stage of the tournament.
Chasing 165 to win against the Netherlands, Namibia stumbled to 3-52 in the ninth over before a 93-run partnership in a little more than eight overs between captain Gerhard Erasmus and former South Africa player David Wiese lifted them to the brink of victory, which they ultimately secured with an over to spare.
The Netherlands, who won the 2019 qualifier tournament and are considered one of the stronger Associate nations, have now lost both of their matches and won't qualify for the next round even if they beat Sri Lanka in their final game of the tournament.
2021 Men's T20 World Cup
How the teams are grouped
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, B1, A2