All-round Atapattu leads Sri Lanka Women to morale-boosting win
South Africa Women goes out of the tournament with another loss, this time a 10-run reversal in Bangalore
28 March 2016 19:45
Chamari Atapattu's half-century guided South Africa Women to 114 for 7.
The final Group A match of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2016 between South Africa Women and Sri Lanka Women at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Monday (March 28) may have been a dead rubber, but keeping with the trend of the tournament, it went right down to the wire as both teams fought hard. Finally, Sri Lanka kept its cool better in a battle of nerves to pull off a rather spectacular ten-run win.
In a match where momentum shifts were a dime a dozen, Chamari Atapattu, the Sri Lanka captain, led her team with a fantastic all-round display under pressure. Her half-century guided the team to 114 for 7 before the spinners, Atapattu included, restricted South Africa to 104 for 7.
In pursuit of a relatively low total, Dane van Niekerk and Trisha Chetty, the South African openers, continued their good form with a solid 50-run opening partnership. They picked up boundaries consistently, but what was most impressive about their stand was the running between the wickets. The two, van Niekerk in particular, pushed the fielders on the boundary, even taking on the throw on a few occasions, but it was this eagerness to rotate the strike that caused her downfall as well.
With South Africa comfortably placed after nine overs, Chetty knocked the ball to the right of Atapattu, the bowler, and set off for a quick single. Atapattu moved swiftly and threw the ball to the striker’s end, catching van Niekerk, on 24, millimeters short of her crease.
The dismissal started a slide for South Africa as its next four wickets fell for 24 runs. Atapattu sent back Mignon du Preez, the South African captain, for a four-ball duck, before Chetty, on 26, became Eshani Lokusuriyage’s first victim. Dinesha Devnarain was the next to go for a 10-ball 3 and South Africa was struggling at 65 for 4.
Marizanne Kapp, playing her 50th T20 International and one of South Africa’s heroes with the ball earlier, tried to keep the scoreboard moving in the company of Lizelle Lee, but after Lee survived a run-out scare, Kapp, on 14, tamely knocked the ball back to Udeshika Prabodhani, the bowler before 74 for 5 became 84 for 6 when Lee was caught behind by Prasadani Weerakkody, the stand-in wicketkeeper, after having smashed a straight six.
Chloe Tryon and Sune Luus pushed South Africa within 13 runs of the target, but Prabodhani held her nerves in the final over, conceding only one run and dismissing Tryon to give Sri Lanka a thrilling victory. Sugandika and Prabodhani picked up two wickets each.
On Sunday, Atapattu had spoken of her team’s inability to close out the innings effectively. To solve the problem, the captain herself batted deep into the innings, scoring a valiant 49-ball 52, but once she fell the Sri Lanka innings followed a similar script.
They lost Yasoda Mendis early in the innings after having chosen to bat when she was castled by Shabnim Ismail for 7. Dilani Manodara, one of Sri Lanka’s best batters this tournament, didn’t trouble the scorers too much, but hung around for a while with Atapattu, who kept the scoreboard moving with some scintillating square drives.
Manodara, who was struck on the neck off the first ball of her innings and couldn’t take the field later, was dismissed for 4 when she missed a yorker from Marcia Letsoalo and Sri Lanka were 42 for 2. Anushka Sanjeewani, too, tried to hold her own while Atapattu went about her business, but it seemed Sri Lanka was getting nowhere at the halfway stage with only 50 runs on the board.
It was van Niekerk’s third over and the 12th of the innings that shifted the momentum in Sri Lanka’s favour when the leg-spinner conceded 12 runs including the only six of the innings, when Atapattu, who had until then preferred the off side, slog-swept van Niekerk over the long-on fence in her attempt to accelerate.
Luus, South Africa’s best bowler in the tournament with a five-for against Ireland Women, then pulled things back in her team’s favour when she struck with her second ball, dismissing Sanjeewani for a 16-ball 7.
Atapattu finally found an able ally in the form of Weerakkody, who scored a run-a-ball 15. The two left-handers used the sweep shot to good effect and milked the South African bowling in the middle overs. The captain, meanwhile brought up her first half-century of the tournament with a cut shot — her first scoring shot off the back foot the entire innings — as Sri Lanka went into the last three overs with the total on 93.
It was then that Kapp came into the attack for her second spell and slowed the Sri Lankan innings down. She first ran out Atapattu off her own bowling with a quick underarm flick in her follow through that caught the batter a few yards short of her crease. Then, in the 19th over, she conceded just one run and picked up the wickets of Ama Kanchana and Nipuni Hansika to reduce Sri Lanka to 105 for 7.
The last over from Ismail that cost nine runs and somewhat pulled things back in Sri Lanka’s favour with Lokusuriyage and Prabodhani unbeaten on 12 and 5 respectively.
For South Africa, Kapp was the best bowler with 2 for 17 off her four overs, including 14 dot balls, while Luus also picked up two wickets.
Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre