Dinesh Chandimal’s poor form might prompt Sri Lanka to bring in Charith Asalanka
Of all the matches in this qualifying round, this one seems to most have the feel of a dead rubber. Not only do Netherlands have no chance of making the Super 12s, but Sri Lanka are also highly likely to finish top of Group A thanks to their superior net run rate.
For Netherlands, this is a chance to make a mark in a tournament in which they will feel they have underperformed. In the first match, their batting was blown away by Ireland’s seam bowlers, while in the second, their bowlers could not withstand David Wiese’s assault for Namibia.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have earned themselves an opportunity to find a solution to their top-order issues. Dinesh Chandimal had another failure against Ireland on Wednesday, thus finding his position at No. 3 in serious peril. The likeliest replacement may be Charith Asalanka, but Dhananjaya de Silva is also in the squad.
Their fast bowlers, meanwhile, might get a rest. Lahiru Kumara has had a particularly taxing workload over the past few weeks, although it may be Dushmantha Chameera that Sri Lanka would prefer had a night off to recharge for the Super 12s.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
Netherlands LLLTW Sri Lanka WWLLL
In the spotlight
One of the few bright spots for Netherlands has been the batting of opener Max O’Dowd. He hit 51 off 47 balls against Ireland while the rest of the top order blew up around him, before making a 56-ball 70 that was the backbone of Netherlands’ innings against Namibia. He has got arguably the best attack of the qualifying stage to contend with in this match, though. Can he maintain his output?
Pathum Nissanka has promised a lot more in Tests than he has in the shortest format, but in hitting his first half-century against Ireland, he suggested he could find success in this World Cup yet. He was unambitious in the early overs while wickets fell around him, but never seemed bogged down either, finding a way to keep his score moving until the boundaries eventually came. After all, Sri Lanka desperately need a reliable run-scorer in their top three.
Pitch and conditions
This will be both teams’ first match in Sharjah. During the IPL, the Sharjah tracks were slow, turned a bit and had variable bounce. Temperatures are expected to hover around the low 30s Celsius range again. If the conditions in Abu Dhabi are anything to go by, dew could be an issue too.
Although No. 5 is a more familiar position for Asalanka, he may slot in at No.3, leaving Bhanuka Rajapaksa at No. 5.
Netherlands may bring in Brandon Glover in place of Timm van der Gugten.
Netherlands (possible): 1 Max O’Dowd, 2 Stephan Myburgh, 3 Roelof van der Merwe, 4 Colin Ackerman, 5 Ryan ten Doeschate, 6 Scott Edwards (wk), 7 Bas de Leede, 8 Pieter Seelar, 9 Logan van Beek, 10 Fred Klaassen, 11 Timm van der Gugten/Brandon Glover
Stats and trivia
In the only previous T20I between these teams, Netherlands were bowled out for 39, a game which Sri Lanka won with 15 overs to spare. That was, however, during the World T20 in 2014, when Sri Lanka had arguably their greatest T20I side – a team which went on to lift the trophy.
This year, O’Dowd has hit 293 runs in just six innings, and at a strike rate of 137.
In 14 innings in 2021, Wanindu Hasaranga has 23 wickets and an economy rate of just 5.43.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf