Atapattu inspires Sri Lanka to upset win over South Africa

Atapattu inspires Sri Lanka to upset win over South Africa
Photo credit: ICC

Chamari Atapattu scored a maiden T20I half century and broke South Africa’s opening stand to lead Sri Lanka to a brilliant win over their South African counterparts in their last match of the World T20, earlier today.

Sri Lanka won the toss once again and elected to take first lease of the wicket. They got off to a brisk start with Skipper Atapattu continuing her good form from the game against Australia. A tough chance off Atapattu’s bat was put down by Dane van Niekerk at mid-off, an opportunity they would come to rue in the next few overs. Yasoda Mendis fell trying to play a big shot once again as Shabnim Ismail struck in the 4th over of the innings. Coming in at number 3, Dilani Manodara was unable to repeat her splendid performance from the other day today as she was clean bowled by a pin-point Yorker from Marcia Letsoalo, leaving Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at 42/2 in just over 8 overs. Atapattu continued her onslaught however, as she took van Niekerk for 11 runs off the 12th over, sweeping the leg spinner for a four and then a six over mid-wicket.

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Next to go was Anushka Sanjeewani, who was beaten by a well flighted delivery from Sune Luus who had deceived the batter similarly in her previous delivery as well. Sanjeewani was caught out of her crease and Sri Lanka slipped to 70/3. Prasadini Weerakkody came to the crease next and supported her skipper by rotating the strike as the latter brought up her maiden T20I half century off 48 deliveries. The partnership was broken when Marizanne Kapp was brought back into the attack and had Atapattu run-out for a well-made 52. No one else could quite get going in the last 4 overs of the innings as Sri Lanka had to settle for 114 off their allotted overs, making just 21 runs after the skipper’s departure.

For the Protea Women, all the bowlers were economical with Marizanne Kapp being the most effective, picking up 2/17. Sune luus also picked up 2 wickets to take her wicket tally to 7 in 4 games in the World T20.

Van Niekerk and Trisha Chetty started off slow against the spin employed by Atapattu but soon began playing their shots as the Sri Lankans lost direction, gifting the batters with short and wide deliveries. The opening pair brought up their 50 run partnership in the 9th over but Van Niekerk fell in the very next over as Atapattu took things into her own hands to have a run-out on 24. She had South African skipper Mignon Du Preez caught in front 4 deliveries later, putting Sri Lanka back in the game.

Eshani Lokusooriya next had Chetty out when she played all over a nice full delivery going towards middle stump. SA had now lost 3 in 8 deliveries. Kapp and Dinesha Devnarain were forced to play out a few cheap overs but when the latter fell to Sugandika Kumari in the 14th over, Sri Lanka were well and truly on top, with the Proteas needing 50 off 38 deliveries. Sri Lanka’s spinners put a choke hold on the South Africans as the required rate skyrocketed. Wickets continued to tumble as the South Africans looked for the big shots. Kapp was followed into the shed by Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon as the 2014 WT20 semi-finalists were upset by the unfancied  Lankans, ultimately falling short by 10 runs.

Kumari and Prabhodini picked up 2 wickets apiece while Eshani Lokusooriya and skipper Atapattu picked 1 each.

Though the records may not suggest it, this is a huge win for the Lankan ladies who have been well below their best over the last 6 months to a year. They will be extremely happy to leave the tournament with a 50-50 win loss record.