Sri Lanka seal it with a six
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The last ball six is quite an astonishing finish to any game of cricket, let alone a World Cup upset featuring the defending champions against a team who had never beaten them. To allow the use of a cliché, it was a classic example of David slaying Goliath.
Chasing 239, Sri Lanka needed one run off the last ball with one wicket in hand to script a famous win over England, the powerhouse of women's cricket. Sri Lanka had already done enough to win the hearts of a handful who turned up at the stadium. After all, they had never managed to cross the 200-run mark in a World Cup match before Friday (previous highest being 177 against England in the 2009 edition). But the manner in which fortunes had swung in the Group A women's World Cup match at Brabourne Stadium, it was difficult to predict whether the Emerald Island would cross the finish line or if the defending champions would hold on for a tie.
England had their tails up going into the final delivery. Just a couple of balls ago, Sri Lanka had lost the wicket of Man-of-the-Match Eshani Kaushalya, turning the tide in England's favour. Georgia Elwiss followed up the wicket-taking delivery with a dot ball, bringing the equation to one off one. Skipper Charlotte Edwards brought the field up. Sensing an opportunity, Manodara decided to go over the top and smacked the ball out of the park. Sri Lanka had pulled off a coup by beating England by one wicket to begin their campaign on an unlikely high. For the record, Sri Lanka's total of 244 is the highest by any team batting second in the World Cup.
There's a very fine line between bad bowling and good batting. After digging themselves out of the hole from 29/3 and 114/5 to make 238/8, England would have fancied their chances of running through the Sri Lankan batting line-up. However, thanks to some mediocre bowling coupled by atrocious fielding - and some fine, counter-attacking batting by Sri Lanka - England were left chasing the game for most part.
Chamari Atapattu and Yasoda Mendis put on 103 for the first wicket to give Sri Lanka a solid start. England, however, refused to let go. Poor shot selection by Sri Lankan batswoman and intelligent bowling by England meant they fought their way back as Lanka lost four wickets for 15 runs near the 40 over mark.
When Kaushalya came to the crease, at number 6, Sri Lanka needed 86 from 85 balls. She took a while to settle but once she played herself in, Kaushalya backed herself to play the big shots when the opportunity presented itself. Stung by her aggression, England panicked. Short deliveries and full tosses were supplied generously and fielders began dropping sitters. Kaushalya made them pay, slamming five fours and three sixes in her 41-ball 56, all but sealing the deal before being run out with one run still needed from three balls.
Earlier, a late flourish by Jennifer Gunn and some efficient knocks by the lower middle-order, saw England put up a fighting score. Gunn's 52 off 71 deliveries was the cornerstone of England's lacklustre batting effort after Sri Lanka had put them in on a hazy morning. The defending champions will now face hosts India on Sunday, while Sri Lanka face West Indies on the same day.
Brief scores: England 238/8 in 50 overs (Heather Knight 38, Jenny Gunn 52; Chamani Seneviratna 2/35, Eshani Kaushalya 2/49) lost to Sri Lanka 244/9 in 50 overs (Chamari Jayagani 62, L Kaushalya 56; Katherine Brunt 2/36, Arran Brindle 2/38).
Devine's ton helps New Zealand crush South Africa
Cuttack, Feb 1 (PTI) Sophie Devine celebrated her return to the limited-overs format with a quickfire century as New Zealand thrashed South Africa by 150 runs in their opening Group 'B' match of the ICC Women's World Cup. Devine, returning after two-and-a-half years, struck a 131-ball 145 and shared a 128-run stand for the third wicket with skipper Suzie Bates (72) as New Zealand posted 320 for five after being sent into bat at the DRIEMS ground, Tangi.
Brief scores: New Zealand 320/5 in 50 overs (S Devine 145, S Bates 72) bt South Africa 170 in 41 overs (S Benade 37, S Ismail 31, S Ruck 4/31).
Australia thump Pakistan
Australia whipped minnows Pakistan by 91 runs in their group B league opener. Opting to bat first, Australia managed only 175 in 46.1 overs on a slow Barabati Stadium track but bowled with purpose to skittle Pakistan out for 84 in 33.2 overs. Veteran all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar contributed 32 before grabbing two for 19 with her off spin. Another notable performer was Sarah Coyte who took three wickets and scored 35 runs.
For Australia, only opener Rachel Haynes (39) and Sarah Coyte (35) crossed 30 apart from Sthalekar. Their total was propped up by the 17 wides Pakistan bowled. .
Brief scores: Australia 175 in 46.1 overs (R Haynes 39, S Coyte 35, L Sthalekar 32, S Yousuf 3/30) bt Pakistan 84 in 33.2 overs (B Maroof 43, S Coyte 3/20, L Sthalekar 2/19).
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