By Wisden India Staff
Team books spot in World T20 2016, unhindered by Sri Lanka's best batting performance in this edition
Sri Lanka Women’s best batting performance of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 wasn't enough to beat a hurt New Zealand side that rode on Rachel Priest’s crucial knock to register a six-wicket win in the first Playoff game at the Sylhet Stadium on Wednesday (April 2).
New Zealand had comfortably won three of its four group stage games, the only loss – a five-wicket upset at the hands of South Africa on Monday – costing it a semifinal spot. But Priest, the wicketkeeper-batter, with an unbeaten 42, her career-best, ensured that New Zealand could reach 135 for 4 in 19 overs.
Chasing 132, captain Suzie Bates provided a swift start despite losing opener Sophie Devine in the first over. Sara McGlashan and Bates then added 39 for the second wicket before Oshadi Ranasinghe dismissed McGlashan for 13.
Bates was eventually bowled by Inoka Ranaweera Gunn after a 35-ball 45, which included seven fours, but not before adding 33 runs with Katie Perkins. Priest and Perkins then steadied the innings with a 34-run stand for the fourth wicket. Perkins succumbed to Shashikala Siriwardena’s guile in the 16th over with New Zealand needing 25 runs from four overs.
Priest and Nicola Browne then kept their wits about them and put on 28 runs, taking their team across the finish line with six balls to spare.
Earlier Sri Lanka captain Siriwardena opted to bat after winning the toss and the call seemed to be a correct one as Sri Lanka got off to a promising start. Opener Yashoda Mendis was quick to attack, racing to 45 off 35 balls.
Though Chamari Polgampola, the other opener, fell cheaply to Browne in the sixth over, Mendis carried on, hitting six fours and two sixes along the way. She, however, couldn’t reach a big score, falling to Felicity Leydon-Davis’ pace in the 11th over.
Three deliveries later, Browne struck to have Siriwardena caught behind; Devine too joined the party dismissing Ranasinghe. Despite the good start, Sri Lanka found itself reeling at 82 for 4 in 14 overs.
Chamari Atapattu and Eshani Kaushalya then came together to put on 30 runs for the fifth wicket before Bates had Kaushalya in for 18. McGlashan then ran out Atapattu, while Frances Mackay sent Sripali Weerakkody back as Sri Lanka wrapped its innings at 131 for 7, its highest score of the tournament. It was a decent number of runs but proved marginally too few to seal a win.