Womens World Cup

Athapaththu to the fore as Sri Lanka seals World Cup spot

Match Report

Batter’s 84 gives home team enough to keep out Bangladesh Women in a 42-run win via the DLS method

200 in 27.1 overs. 150 in 26.3 overs. What happens if India beats Pakistan? And if it rains? The mathematics ahead of the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh clash called for some calculators and Excel sheets, and for the first time in this tournament, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern numbers. Did the teams come out to the Nondescript Cricket Club grounds on Sunday (February 19) for their final ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 Super Six match with net run-rate lessons to supplement catching practice?

Bangladesh, who needed a big win to pip Sri Lanka to the last available spot for the World Cup, showed the stomach for a fight. But in the end, it mattered little as a sensible performance from Sri Lanka earned the team a 42-run win (DLS method) and confirmed its place in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England later this year. Chamari Athapaththu played a long innings of maturity to lift Sri Lanka to 197 for 9. Only 21 overs were possible in the Bangladesh chase; and having lost half the side before rain interrupted play, at 68 for 5, they were well behind on DLS for a win.

Bangladesh, backing its chances of chasing on a cloudy morning, put Sri Lanka in, knowing it would need to knock off the runs in quick time. The field was brought in, there was a short leg or silly point in place to the spinners, and the pacers were asked to dry up the runs in conditions that offered some movement.

The bowlers then took three wickets in three overs starting from the 38th to suck the momentum from Sri Lanka’s innings. Fargana Hoque ran in from point to complete a calm throw at the batter’s end close up and run out Dilani Manodara; Suraiya Azmin, playing her second match of the tournament, recovered from a wayward first over sharing the new ball, to trap Eshani Lokusooriya in front; and Panna Ghosh had Sripali Weerakkody bowled with a beauty.

But the Sri Lankan batters, right from the start, had managed a boundary now and again to release carefully built dot-ball pressure. And Athapaththu, the left-hander, who had waited 13 balls to score her first runs, showcased an array of powerful shots around the ground after making sure she would play long into the innings.

Bangladesh needed a massive win to pip Sri Lanka to a World Cup spot, but it was not to be.
Bangladesh needed a massive win to pip Sri Lanka to a World Cup spot, but it was not to be.

She waited till the 36th over of the match to really hit out, switching gears with a six and a four off Khadija tul Kubra on either side of the wicket. She and Manodara added a vital 33 for the fourth wicket, the quick running as impressive as the boundaries that began to flow.

Manodara sacrificed her wicket for the sake of her well-set partner, and Athapathu made sure it wouldn’t go to waste by bringing up her fifty in 84 balls with a powerful four down the ground.

She fell short of what would have been her third ODI hundred, bowled for 84 (eight fours, one six) trying to take on Salma Khatun (3 for 18) and making her disappointment at herself known.

A useful cameo from Udeshika Prabodani gave her side more wriggle room in which to restrict Bangladesh. When the teams came back out after the break, she gave Sri Lanka a first-ball lbw of Sharmin Sultana and had Fargana Hoque mistime one for the wicketkeeper to take a tricky catch with the ball in the air for a while.

Nigar Sultana did her best to keep the required rate in control, but under a drizzle that steadily increased in intensity, wickets fell in a heap. When Sultana (24) became the first of two wickets in as many balls for Inoshi Fernando, the offspinner, it seemed the end of Bangladesh’s campaign was near.

The band and the enthusiastic cheer squad that have followed Sri Lanka on their games refused to let the downpour cut short their merriment, but their dancing and football in the rain would be all the action the ground would see the rest of the evening.

Prabodani finished with 2 for 14 in four overs, while Fernando had 2 for 16 in seven.

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