Sri Lanka Women captain Chamari Atapattu willed and rallied her side to a 10-run victory over South Africa Women in Bangalore, in the last league match of the Women’s World T20.
Atapattu first stroked her maiden T20 international fifty, which contained five fours and one six, even as her partners floundered. Atapattu then brought herself into the attack in the defence of 114 and her second over resulted in two wickets. She ran to her right from her follow through, collected a wristy push from Trisha Chetty and flung a throw to the keeper to catch Dane van Niekerk short for 24 off 31 balls. Three balls later, Atapattu pinned her opposite number Mignon du Preez plumb in front for a duck, a wicket the Sri Lanka captain identified as the “turning point” at the post match-presentation.
Left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari and left-arm pacer Udeshika Prabodhani backed Atapattu to squeeze South Africa’s middle order. From 50 for 0, South Africa slumped to 102 for 7. Du Preez said: “We had a good start and we lost it in the middle order. We have been struggling with it in the whole tournament. It was also poor execution from us. This is something we need to work on and come back stronger.”
Prabodhani speared in full balls and defended 12 off the last over, including taking the wicket of Chloe Tryon for 11 off 10 balls. Though it was just a dead rubber, Sri Lanka toasted the win, and got into a huddle only after wicketkeeper-batsman Dilani Manodara had joined the team from the dug out; Prasadani Weerakkody had taken the gloves in the absence of Manodara.
Manodara was pinged on the grille of the helmet when she missed a scoop off her first ball. She scratched around for 4 off 9 balls, before she was bowled by seamer Marcia Letsoalo. Manodara was later sent to the hospital for a scan and it was found that she had no major injuries.
Sri Lanka’s middle order folded as well and they managed only 34 for 4 in their last five overs. Atapattu, however, had lifted Sri Lanka with a bevy of muscled slog sweeps. She hit 52 off 49 balls before she was run out by Marizanna Kapp, who was featuring in her 50th T20 international. She picked up two wickets and was complemented by legspinner Suné Luus, who also scalped two wickets. But Attapattu’s act would prove to be too much for South Africa.