Belinda Vakawera’s debut for Australia at the age of 19, Meg Lanning’s highest score of 152 not out during the eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka, Nicole Bolton picking up two wickets in her first bowl in an international game, the Indian spinners stranglehold and Smriti Mandhana’s graceful century during the win over Windies in Taunton were the highlights from Thursday (June 29) at the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. But the biggest talking point of the day was Chamari Athapaththu’s unbeaten 143-ball 178 that gave Sri Lanka a rare chance of putting it past Australia.
It was an innings that was studded with 22 fours and six sixes, but it was the audacity of the knock even as wickets kept falling around her that made it sensational. A fan of Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya, Athapaththu fused the good traits of both stalwarts to enthral the crowd at the venue. She later thanked them and her coaches for their inputs, and dedicated the innings to her late father.
Soon after reaching her century, Athapaththu celebrated by pointing at her jersey number. It was an emotional moment for someone who has often shown good promise, but never really been able to convert it on the big stage.
“This is my best innings. In the past, I had scored three hundreds against Ireland, Pakistan and South Africa. This is my first hundred in World Cups and my highest score. This is my best achievement,” she said. “I started like Sanga, and ended like Sanath.”