The Sri Lankan top order kept their best performance so far for the televised game as they played some aggressive cricket against the reigning World T20 champions to put themselves in the front seat of the Group A encounter in Delhi earlier today. Unfortunately, their spirited batting performance was not backed up by the bowlers and fielders and they ended up losing by nine wickets.
Sri Lanka got off to a nightmare start after winning the toss and batting as Yasoda Mendis tried to smash Erin Osborne to the stands in the very first over; she only succeeded in chipping an easy catch to Kristen Beams at mid-on. However, the aggression did not stop there as one drop batter Dilani Manodara continued her good form with the bat. Manodara attacked the Aussie bowlers while Captain Chamari Atapattu provided some solid support, rotating the strike to give her compatriot the majority of the strike. The pair survived a couple of scares running between the wickets but overall rotated the strike well, inducing some errors from the Australians who looked below par on the field.
Manodara and Atapattu put on a record partnership for the 2nd wicket before Manodara chopped on to Beams, who looked most threatening with her leg spin. Shashikala Siriwardene’s replacement Anushka Sanjeewani made a run a ball 12 and looked busy at the crease but was stumped off Beams. Atapattu soon followed and both she and Manodara will be disappointed with the fact that they have consistently gotten starts but have failed capitalize and make big scores. It’s fair to say that if either one of them had stayed at the crease the Lankans would probably have ended with a score close to 140. It was not to be however and although Eshani Lokusooriya tried to drag the team beyond the 130 mark, she was brilliantly stumped by birthday girl Alyssa Healy in the penultimate over of the innings. Sri Lanka managed to lose wickets in a heap once again, going from 69/1 in ten overs to finish on 123/8 at the end of their 20 overs.
Nevertheless, the Sri Lankans will be pleased at being able to get past the 120 run mark against the reigning World T20 champions in their 1st ever T20 I against them. It was honestly a pretty refreshing approach to the game by the Lankan lasses, who have had a miserable time of it of late.
For the Aussies it was really the death bowling that got them back into the game, Megan Schutt, in particular was pretty impressive. Both Schutt and Beams finished with identical figures of 2/25, with the former picking up 2 key wickets in the 20th over to restrict the Lankans.
The Southern Stars would probably have had a little bit of nerves coming into bat, knowing that, after their loss to the White Ferns, this was a must win game. They ended up doing it easy in the end, cruising to the target with 14 balls to spare.
Inoka Ranaweera did manage to get Healy out relatively early but two calm innings from Elyse Villani and Meg Lanning took Australia home. What was key was the fact that the two experienced campaigners ensured that they batted to the end to finish the game. Sri Lanka weren’t very good with the ball or in the field, lots of fumbles and misfields and lots of free runs were conceded. They did not have anywhere close to enough in the end and Australia showed their class.
Elyse Villani was adjudged Player of the match for her valuable half century.
Sri Lanka will be disappointed with the loss but will take heart from the fact that at least with their batting, they gave the Aussies a scare. The Southern Stars on the other hand will be pleased to get their campaign back on track after the loss to New Zealand and now stand a good chance of making the semi-final.
Australia will next face Ireland on Saturday while Sri Lanka will play their last game on Monday against South Africa.