Sri Lanka had lost their last 12 T20Is against India and had never beaten them in a home match. But all that was put to rest when their captain Chamari Athapaththu led them to a seven-wicket victory in the final game of the three-game T20I series at Dambulla. The hosts managed to salvage the pride after conceding the series with back-to-back defeats.
Athapaththu averages 22.57 in T20I, but when she led Sri Lanka to victory, she averages 42.61 and hits at 142.41. Its best version was in theaters on Monday.
The Athapaththu show, the beginning
Sri Lanka’s pursuit of 139 began attackingly with youngster Vishmi Gunaratne whipping Renuka Singh for a four over midwicket in the first over. However, she fell two balls later and Athapaththu took over. Her first limit was a streaky slice in the fourth, but she was more authoritative on the next ball when she danced and hit the offspinner on the ground. The onslaught continued when she greeted Radha Yadav with a ferociously cut four and followed it with a sweep through the back square leg.
The marauding southpaw then hit the chase’s lone six when she snuck down the track to crush Deepti longer in the power-play finale. Just like that, they had 28 from 15 as Sri Lanka finished this phase at 47 for 2.
The Decisive Alliance
In Silva’s experienced Nilakshi, Athapaththu found a reliable partner and the duo slew the chase, mixing caution and aggression. De Silva was also happy to play his shots, knocking Pooja Vastrakar to the ground before sliding Simran Dil Bahadur to the side.
India’s shoddy fielding also helped Sri Lanka’s cause. Athapaththu’s untimely slog to the center of Bahadur’s deep wicket was reversed by Jemimah Rodrigues running to her right, and from the next ball she found the gap between the backspot and the short third man to elevate her fifth half -century.
Athapaththu and de Silva added 77 from just 57 balls – the third-highest wicket for Sri Lanka in the format – before de Silva ran out. Athapaththu stayed in the middle to ensure Sri Lanka ended their losing streak against India. She was helped by further mishaps on the court towards the end and finished undefeated on 80 balls from just 48 balls.
India’s batting misfires
On a surface that seemed good to beat, the Indian batters did not find their place and were limited to 138, which was not enough in the end. Smriti Mandhana found the way difficult scoring 22 of 21 and fell to Oshadi Ranasinghe for the second time in three games.
Sabbhineni Meghana hit three clean fours but couldn’t spin the hit consistently against Sri Lanka’s slow bowlers. It was once again up to Harmanpreet Kaur and Rodrigues to keep India on track. The pair added 64 for the fourth wicket but consumed 56 balls leaving India without momentum before the dead.
Rodrigues fell for 30 trying to recover Ama Kanchana on a short thin leg in the 19th. Vastrakar’s 13-from-six helped India close to the 140 mark – which had proved enough in the first T20I – while Harmanpreet remained unbeaten on 39-from-33 at the other end . (cricinfo)
India 138 for 5 (Harmanpreet Kaur 39 no, Jemimah Rodrigues 33; Oshadi Ranasinghe 1-13)
Sri Lankan 141
for 3 (Chamari Athapaththu 80n.o., Nilakshi de Silva 30)