Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu made a classy half-century to lead her team to an upset three-run win against hosts South Africa in the opening match of the Women’s T20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
Athapaththu’s 68 off 50 balls enabled Sri Lanka to make 129 for four after they were sent in to bat by the host nation.
Sri Lanka restricted South Africa to 126 for nine with accurate slow bowling backed by good fielding.
Left-arm spin bowler Inoka Ranaweera took three key wickets and conceded only 18 runs, while fellow left-armer Sugandika Kumari and off-spinner Oshadhi Ranasinghe took two wickets apiece as South Africa were unable to put together any substantial partnerships. Captain Sune Luus was the top-scorer with 28.
The left-handed Athapaththu hit 12 fours and shared a second-wicket partnership of 86 with 17-year-old Vishmi Gunarathne, who made 35.
Both batters fell to good fielding off successive balls in the 18th over, preventing a late burst of scoring.
Gunarathne was run out by a direct hit by Tazmin Brits and Athapaththu fell to a diving catch in the deep by Nadine de Klerk off Marizanne Kapp.
South Africa made a brisk start but Ranaweera bowled accurately and had leading batters Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt caught in her first two overs. When Kumari had the big-hitting Chloe Tryon caught in the deep and bowled Anneke Bosch two balls later South Africa were in deep trouble at 72 for five.
Nilakshi Silva held three catches in the deep as the Sri Lankan fielders backed up their bowlers superbly.
Luus was stumped off Ranaweera with 17 runs needed off the last nine balls and two run-outs sealed South Africa’s fate.
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