India are currently placed fourth in the 2017–20 ICC Women's Championship table with eight points, and despite the victory, Sri Lanka remain at the bottom (eighth) with just two points. The top three teams in the table, along with hosts New Zealand, will automatically qualify for the 2021 World Cup.
Asked to bat, a 143-ball 125 from Raj and 62-ball 51 from Smriti Mandhana led India to 253 for 5 in 50 overs. In reply, Athapaththu (115) gave Sri Lanka a solid platform before their lower-order somehow managed to get the job done with a ball to spare. The home team finished on 257 for 7 in 49.5 overs.
Hasini Perera and Athapaththu added 101 runs for the opening wicket to give Sri Lanka a solid start. While Perera took a sedate approach, Athapaththu was slightly more aggressive. Poonam Yadav (1 for 50) finally gave India the first breakthrough in the 24th over when the legspinner outfoxed Perera for 70-ball 45, studded with four fours and two sixes. Wicketkeeper-batter Anushka Sanjeewani (22) stuck for a while before getting knocked over by Jhulan Goswami (2 for 39).
It was Dayalan Hemalatha who brought an end to Athapaththu's 133-ball knock, decorated with 13 fours and four maximums. Before the dust had settled, Imalka Mendis (12) and Nilakshi de Silva (15 off 9) too perished in a while, leaving Sri Lanka with 31 runs to get in last five overs.
However, Sripali Weerakkody (14*) and Kavisha Dilhari (12*) held their nerves and it all boiled down to six off six deliveries. Dilhari then blasted Deepti Sharma for four in the penultimate ball to help her team get over the line.
Earlier, India lost Jemimah Rodrigues (nought) in the very first over but a 102-run partnership between Mandhana and Raj propelled the visiting side to a strong position. Both batters operated at decent strike rates, with Mandhana smashing six fours during her stay in the middle. The stand was finally broken in the 23rd over when Athapaththu got rid of Mandhana.
Harmanpreet Kaur (17) and Hemalatha (6) didn't contribute much but Raj kept going and going and going at the other end. She found an able ally in Deepti Sharma as the two put on 92 runs for the fifth wicket. In the process, Raj brought up her seventh ODI century and also went past her previous highest ODI score of 114 not out (v Ireland in 1999).
Deepti got out for a 44-ball 38 in the final over but Jhulan Goswami smoked a six in the penultimate delivery to take India past the 250-run mark. For Sri Lanka, Udeshika Prabodhani, de Silva, Shashikala Siriwardene, Athapaththu and Kavisha Dilhari took a wicket apiece.
The two teams will now be involved in a five-match Twenty20 series, starting from Wednesday.
Chamari AthapaththuDeepti SharmaHarmanpreet KaurIndia womenIndia women vs Sri Lanka womenjhulan goswamimithali rajshashikala siriwardenesmriti mandhanasri lanka womenSri Lanka Women vs India Women
First Published: September 16, 2018, 5:55 PM IST