Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Proteas women stunned by Sri Lanka in T20 World Cup opener

The Sri Lankan innings was dominated by opening batter and captain Chamari Athapaththu as she slammed a brilliant 68 off 50 balls.

The Proteas women were stunned by Sri Lanka in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup opener when they fell to a disappointing three run loss at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday night.

It is a massive blow to the Proteas hopes of qualifying from a tough group, with every result an important one.

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After the hosts won the toss and chose to bowl, Sri Lanka made their way to 129/4 at the end of their 20 overs.

The Proteas would have been comfortable chasing that score, but with them not able to get any partnerships going and the fact that captain Sune Luus was their top scorer with 28-runs told the story of a disastrous chase, that saw them finish on 126/9.

The Proteas chase got off to a decent enough start as openers Laura Wolvaardt (18) and Tasmin Brits (12) took 28 off the first four overs, before Brits (12) was first to fall in the fifth, as she was caught at extra cover off the bowling of Oshadi Ranasinghe with them on 29/1.

Marizanne Kapp (11) and Wolvaardt then shared in a 15-run second wicket stand, with Kapp then caught trying to clear mid-on with them on 44/2 in the eighth over.

This brought Luus to the crease, but Wolvaardt was caught in the slips off a top edge in the 10th over with them in a bit of trouble on 53/3.

 Chloe Tryon (10) was the new batter and needed to put in a good partnership with Luus, but a big double strike in the 13th over saw them slip deeper into the mire.

Tryon was caught at long on off the bowling of Sugandika Kumari, while Anneke Bosch was bowled for a duck two balls later, leaving them in big trouble on 74/5.

Nadine de Klerk (7) and Luus combined for a 23-run sixth wicket partnership, but after Luus cracked Ranasinghe for a six at the start of the 17th over, De Klerk unwisely tried to do the same off the third ball and found long on with them on 95/6.

Sinalo Jafta, 15 off nine balls (2×4) then played a decent cameo, but the 19th over proved a defining one as Luus was stumped and Jafta was run out, as they slipped to 117/8 which proved too much for the lower order to chase.

Chamari Athapaththu dominance

The Sri Lankan innings was dominated by opening batter and captain Chamari Athapaththu as she slammed a brilliant 68 off 50 balls (12×4) which proved to be match winning in the end.

It was a slow start to their innings for Sri Lanka as they only managed four runs off the first three overs, before Athapaththu opened up a little, scooping Ayabonga Khaka over the keepers head for four, and clubbing back to back boundaries off Nonkululeko Mlaba to get them to 28/0 by the end of the powerplay.

The very next over saw the breakthrough as De Klerk had opener Harshitha Samarawickrama (8) caught at short mid-wicket by Brits with Sri Lanka on 28/1.

Vishma Gunaratne (35) joined Athapaththu at the crease and they took things easy at first, reaching the halfway mark on 45/1.

Athapaththu then decided that they needed to up the rate, and crashed three boundaries in a row in De Klerk’s 11th over as 13 came off it.

Another hattrick of boundaries, this time from Gunaratne off the bowling of Shabnim Ismail’s 13th over saw 13 off it as well, with Sri Lanka now picking up a head of steam as they moved to 80/1 at the end of it.

Athapaththu brought up a well-deserved half century in the 15th over with a single off Mlaba, and then continued enjoying the bowling of De Klerk as she targeted her 16th over, with three fours in a row taking them past the hundred run mark.

The start of the 18th over then saw the back of both set batters as Gunaratne was run out by a direct hit from Brits at the bowlers end, followed by Athapaththu finding De Klerk at long leg off the bowling of Kapp with them slipping to 114/3.

The final two overs were then kept pretty tight, including Ismail bowling Nilakshi de Silva (4) as Sri Lanka set the Proteas 130 to win.