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Chamari Athapaththu

Records tumble as Mooney, Athapaththu slam hundreds in Sydney run-fest

AUSW v SLW, 1st T20I, report

Beth Mooney and Chamari Athapaththu both hit exactly 113, but it was Australia smiling at the end of it all, registering a 41-run win in the first Twenty 20 International at North Sydney Oval to take 1-0 lead.

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The magnitude of the result might not reflect the intensity of the game, as much as the flow of Sri Lanka's innings in the second half of the chase did. The visitors scored exactly 100 between overs 11 and 18, but the rising run-rate made sure that the hosts always stayed ahead in the game.

When Athapaththu bowled the final over of Australia's innings to see the hosts notch up a daunting 217/4, not many would have given the visitors a chance but for the skipper herself. With the asking rate almost 11-an-over at the start of the innings, things got even more difficult as Sri Lanka lost opener Yashoda Mendis and wicket-keeper batter Anushka Sanjeewani within five overs of the chase. 

The skipper, however, dominated the Australia bowlers with an entertaining counter-attack, which included 12 hits to the fence and six over it, to keep her side in the hunt, before being eventually dismissed by Megan Schutt in the 18th over. She became the first woman cricketer to score a T20I hundred for Sri Lanka, surpassing Lasanthi Madushani's highest individual score of unbeaten 63 in the process.

Meg Lanning used as many as seven bowlers, with left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen being the most economical of them all, conceding only 27 in her four overs, while Georgia Wareham managed to grab two wickets with her leg breaks in the final over.

Earlier, Mooney became only the fourth woman cricketer after Deandra Dottin, Lanning, and Danielle Wyatt to register two T20I hundreds. The left-hander hit 20 fours during her 61-ball stay at the crease – the most by any player, male or female, in a single T20I innings. It powered Australia to their second-highest total in the format, after they had recorded 226/3 at Chelmsford earlier this year.

She first added 72 for the opening wicket with Alyssa Healy, before Oshadhi Ranasinghe, the medium pacer, caught Healy off her own bowling for a 21-ball 43. Ranasinghe struck once again in her next over, trapping skipper Lanning leg-before for one, before Ashleigh Gardner combined with Mooney for a 115-run stand in ten overs. Gardener fell one short of a half-century, falling to Athapaththu in the final over.

Mooney was adjudged as the Player of the Match for her match-winning effort. The second game will be played on Monday, 30 September, at the same venue.

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