Sri Lanka 129 for 4 (Athapaththu 68, Gunaratne 35, Kapp 1-15) beat South Africa 126 for 9 (Luus 28, Ranaweera 3-18, Ranasinghe 2-20, Sugandika 2-28) by three runs
South Africa’s highly anticipated home Women’s T20 World Cup got underway in the most dramatic fashion with Sri Lanka securing a big upset against the hosts, winning by three runs before a record crowd in Cape Town.
Sri Lanka keep their cool
Tazmin Brits never really got going after being struck on the helmet attempting a pull shot off Achini Kulasooriya and fell slicing Ranasinghe to extra cover. Kapp scored only 12 before she holed out to mid-on and when Ranaweera struck again to remove Wolvaardt with 77 needed off 10.2 overs, South Africa were still ahead of Sri Lanka at the same point but by no means safe.
However, with Luus and an in-form Chloe Tryon at the crease, there appeared no reason to panic. But then Tryon and Anneke Bosch fell in the space of three balls, and Luus, who was saved by a wayward throw after a terrible mix-up with Sinalo Jafta, was stumped as Ranaweera claimed her third and put her side within reach of victory. Needing 13 off the last over, Ismail was run out and Sugandika yielded just two runs off the next three balls, meaning that Nonkululeko Mlaba’s four off the last was not enough.
Athapaththu to the rescue (again)
The match was almost four overs old before Sri Lanka found the boundary, via Athapaththu’s slash through extra cover off Kapp. She reeled off two more back-to-back with a slog sweep and then a pull as Mlaba bowled first too full, then too short. Nadine de Klerk entered the attack in the seventh over with immediate effect though as Samarawickrama spooned the ball straight to short midwicket.
Athapaththu knew she had to get moving and she unleashed three fours in a row off de Klerk, twice through extra cover before pulling a short ball over deep square leg. Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s Under-19 captain, then piled on three more in a row, dispatching Ismail through deep midwicket, slicing past deep third and clearing wicketkeeper Jafta’s head.
Gunaratne added 35 off 34 balls before a direct hit from Brits ended her stand with Athapaththu after she had nudged Kapp towards short cover for a quick single. But then Kapp made the major breakthrough, as Athapaththu picked out de Klerk at deep-backward square leg.