SYDNEY – Defending champions Australia returned from the brink of elimination to pip Sri Lanka but India underlined their title credentials with their second successive victory in the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup in Perth on Monday.
Australia were stunned by India in Friday’s tournament opener and the hosts looked patchy again as they edged out Sri Lanka by five wickets to keep alive their hopes of a fifth title.
Later at the same WACA Ground, India were much more clinical in their 18-run victory against Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka captain Chamari Atapattu had led from the front with a belligerent 50 to help her team post 122-6 after electing to bat.
Free-scoring Atapattu smacked two sixes and seven boundaries in her entertaining 38-ball innings before falling to Nicola Carey (2-18).
Umesha Thimashini (20), Anushka Sanjeewani (25) and Nilakshi de Silva (18) were unable to convert their good starts into match-winning contributions.
Australia, in reply, ran into trouble early and were reeling at 10-3 in the fourth over after Alyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner and Beth Mooney departed in quick succession.
It was the 95-run stand between Rachael Haynes (60) and skipper Meg Lanning (41 not out) that rescued the hosts.
Sri Lanka did not help their own cause by dropping Haynes and burning their reviews which meant they could not challenge the not-out decision after Lanning had edged behind.
“World Cup tournaments aren’t easy. You have to keep winning, that’s the nature of the beast,” player-of-the-match Haynes said after Australia won with three balls to spare.
“I’m sure there were a couple of nerves today but to be able to get over the line right at the end will hopefully create some momentum for the rest of the tournament.”
Put into bat in the later match, India posted a competitive 142-6 with opener Shafali Verma putting on a six-hitting display in her 17-ball blitz.
Playing without regular partner Smriti Mandhana, who missed the match with fever, the 16-year-old sensation Verma smashed four sixes before falling for 39.
“I had that in my mind, since Smriti wasn’t around, I wanted to take the responsibility and play as much as I can,” player of the match Verma said.
The youngster grabbed the headlines last November when she broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record to become the youngest Indian batter to score an international half-century.
Having found her rhthym during the tri-series in Australia earlier this month, Verma is now focused on helping her team go all the way at the World Cup.
“I want to continue doing what I’m doing. Being here for a long time has helped and I want to continue doing well for the team,” she added.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur disappointed again but Jemimah Rodrigues scored a breezy 34 and Veda Krishnamurthy made a quickfire 20 not out even though the 150-mark eluded India.
“The way Veda played today was the turning point for us because at that time we needed a few boundaries and she did a great job,” said Kaur.
Poonam Yadav’s 4-19 had destroyed Australia on Friday and the 28-year-old tormented Bangladesh too with her loopy leg-breaks to claim 3-18.
Opener Murshida Khatun (30) and Nigar Sultana (35) batted fluently but Bangladesh could never really accelerate and eventually managed 124-8.