Friday, December 09, 2022

Athapaththu’s 48-ball 80* helped Sri Lanka win

Sri Lanka 141 for 3 (Athapaththu 80*, de Silva 30) beat India 138 for 5 (Harmanpreet 39*, Rodrigues 33, Ranasinghe 1-13) by 7 wickets

Sri Lanka had lost their last 12 T20Is against India, and had never beaten them in a home match. But their captain Chamari Athapaththu led them to a seven-wicket victory in the final match of the three-match T20I series in Dambulla. The hosts managed to salvage Gaurav after winning the series with consecutive defeats.

Athapathu averages 22.57 in T20Is, but when he led Sri Lanka to victory, he averaged 42.61 and strikes 142.41. The best version of her was on the show on Monday.

Athapaththu Show, Beginnings
Sri Lanka chased down 139 and young Vishmi Gunaratne hit Renuka Singh for four overs at midwicket in the first over. However, she fell after two balls and Athapaththu took over. Her first boundary was a streak slice in the fourth over, but she was more authoritative on the next ball when she danced and hit the offspinner to the ground. The attack continued as he welcomed Radha Yadav with a hard cut boundary and then sweeps it through backward square leg.

The left-hander only hit a six after chasing to dodge Deepti at long-off in the final over of the powerplay. Just like that, he scored 28 off 15 as Sri Lanka ended that leg at 47 for 2.

decisive alliance

In the experienced Nilakshi de Silva, Athapaththu found a reliable partner and the pair followed suit, mixing caution with aggression. De Silva was also happy to play his strokes as he knocked Pooja Vastrakar to the ground before swiping Simran Dil Bahadur to the side.

India’s poor fielding also contributed for Sri Lanka. Athapaththu’s wrong shot at deep midwicket off Bahadur was dropped by Jemima Rodrigues running to her right, and on the very next ball she found the gap between backward point and short third man to bring up her fifth half-century.

Athapaththu and de Silva added 77 runs in just 57 balls – the third highest wicket for Sri Lanka in the format – before de Silva was run out. Athapaththu remained in the middle to ensure his run of defeat against India to Sri Lanka. She was aided by more fielding accidents towards the close and remained unbeaten on 80 off just 48 balls.

India’s batting misfire
On a surface that looked good to bat on, India’s batsmen failed to find their footing and were bundled out for 138 runs, which ultimately wasn’t enough. Smriti Mandhana found it difficult to score 22 off 21, and fell to Oshadi Ranasinghe for the second time in three matches.

Sabbhineni Meghna hit three crisp boundaries but could not rotate the strike consistently against the slow bowlers of Sri Lanka. It was once again up to Harmanpreet Kaur and Rodrigues to put India on the right track. The pair put on 64 runs for the fourth wicket but consumed 56 balls, leaving India motionless in the death overs.

Rodrigues fell for 30 while trying to scoop Ama Kanchana at short fine leg in the 19th over. Vastrakar’s 13 off six balls helped India close to the 140 mark – which proved to be enough in the first T20I – while Harmanpreet remained unbeaten on 39 off 33 balls at the other end.

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