Sri Lanka avoids wooden spoon with tense win
Shashikala Siriwardene’s 100th One-Day International proved to be a memorable one for Sri Lanka, as it beat Pakistan by 15 runs in the wooden-spoon clash of the 2017 Women’s World Cup at Grace Road in Leicester on Saturday.
Chasing 222 for its first win of the tournament after Dilani Manodara’s 84 took Sri Lanka to 221 for 7, Pakistan was done in by Chandima Gunaratne’s career-best figures 4 for 41. Despite Nain Abidi’s 57 and Asmavia Iqbal’s unbeaten 38 from No. 8, it was dismissed for 206 in 46.4 overs.
Manodara’s career-best effort – her second half-century of the tournament after she made 61 in a close loss against India – came after Sri Lanka had slipped to 98 for 5. She had partnerships of 76 with Eshani Lokusuriyage (28) and 33 with Ama Kanchana (21 not out) to take the team past 220-run mark.
The sixth-wicket partnership of 76 included seven fours, of which Lokusuriyage, returning to the side after being dropped for the last three games, hit three. Manodara then added 33 valuable runs with Kanchana before being the seventh and last wicket to fall. Kanchana batted briskly in her 18-ball knock to keep the momentum of the innings.
Earlier, Diana Baig (3 for 41) bowled the second over of the match, and bowled Nipuni Hansika with her fourth ball. She struck again in the last ball of the fourth over when Hasini Perera was caught behind. Athapaththu and Siriwardene consolidated with a stand of 46 runs before Kainat Imtiaz provided the breakthrough in the 16th over.
Athapaththu’s exit brought Manodara to the middle, and she had spent 5.1 overs when Asmavia Iqbal ran backwards at mid-off to take a sharp catch and send Siriwardene back for 17. Sana Mir dismissed Prasadani Weerakkody in the 27th over before Manodara took charge.
Having beaten Pakistan in the Qualifier earlier this year, Sri Lanka was confident of defending the target. Pakistan became 54 for 3 before Abidi and Iram Javed resurrected the chase with a stand of 53 runs. Athapaththu provided the crucial breakthrough when she had Javed caught beautifully by Kanchana at long-off. She then ran out Javeria as Pakistan slipped again.
At 159 for 7, the game looked in Sri Lanka’s control. But Asmavia kept the scoreboard moving. Her ninth-wicket stand of 32 with Baig looked to have put Pakistan in charge before Kanchana dismissed Baig for her second wicket.
Fittingly, Inoka Ranaweera, the captain, bowled Sadia Yousuf to end the game and give Sri Lanka its first point.
One of the highlights for Sri Lanka from this tournament was Athapaththu’s unbeaten 178 against Australia. Pakistan had decent performances against most of the teams, but never could all three departments click in unison.