New Zealand are all but in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals after a quick-fire five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Bangalore.
The Black Caps finished their group campaign on 10 points from nine games after snapping a four-match losing streak with a routine victory, skittling Sri Lanka for 171 before reaching their target with 160 balls to spare to significantly boost their net run-rate.
New Zealand sit fourth in the table and although they could be joined on 10 points by Afghanistan and Pakistan, both sides will need remarkably large wins to overhaul the Kiwis’ run-rate of +0.743.
Afghanistan – whose current net run-rate of -0.338 means they are almost certainly eliminated – face South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday before Pakistan (+0.036) meet England in Kolkata a day later.
Sri Lanka 171 all out in 46.2 overs: Kusal Perera (51 off 28 balls); Maheesh Theekshana (38); Trent Boult (3-37), Rachin Ravindra (2-21), Mitchell Santner (2-22), Lockie Ferguson (2-35)
New Zealand 172-5 in 23.2 overs: Devon Conway (45), Daryl Mitchell (43), Rachin Ravindra (42); Angelo Mathews (2-29)
Unbeaten India have already secured top spot in the standings and will face the fourth-placed team in the first World Cup semi-final next Wednesday, with South Africa and Australia to meet in the second on Thursday, ahead of the final on Sunday November 19.
New Zealand are India’s likely last-four opponents and if that match comes to pass then the hosts will face Black Caps batter Rachin Ravindra, whose knock of 42 against Sri Lanka means he is now the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 565 in nine innings.
New Zealand snap losing streak with crucial win
New Zealand began their tournament with thumping wins over England, Netherlands, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before then losing to India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, the last of those defeats coming in a rain-affected match.
Kane Williamson’s side, beaten finalists in the last two 50-over World Cups, were on form against Sri Lanka, though, dismissing their opponents in 46.4 overs as Boult bagged three wickets and Lockie Ferguson, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner took two apiece.
Sri Lanka were 128-9 after 32.1 overs only for last-wicket pair Maheesh Theekshana (38no) and Dilshan Madushanka (19) to frustrate New Zealand with a stand of 43.
Boult struck twice in the fifth over, removing Kusal Mendis (6) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (1), after Tim Southee had dismissed Pathum Nissanka (2) in the second once Williamson elected to bowl.
Kusal Perera (51 off 28) slammed a 22-ball fifty for Sri Lanka, while Angelo Mathews scored 16 – having made his way to the crease briskly following his controversial timed-out dismissal against Bangladesh in a tempestuous game on Monday.
New Zealand openers Devon Conway (45) and Ravindra put on 86 from 74 balls to break the back of the chase, before Daryl Mitchell (43) – who was at fault for the run out of Mark Chapman (7) – also contributed and Glenn Phillips (17no off 10) ended the game with successive fours.
Sri Lanka’s seventh defeat in nine games leaves them ninth and they now need favours from other teams to end up in the top eight and qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
Afghanistan play South Africa in Ahmedabad on Friday (8.30am UK time) needing an enormous win to have any chance of leapfrogging New Zealand and moving into fourth place. Build-up begins at 8am on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event.
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