Taniya Bhatia's stunning knock of 68, followed by a disciplined effort with the ball helped India Women defeat Sri Lanka Women by six runs in the second WODI of the ICC Women’s Championship in Galle on Thursday. Courtesy this win India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Opting to bat, India lost early wickets before a sedate 121-ball 52 from Mithali Raj, 66-ball 68 from Bhatia and 31-ball 35 from Dayalan Hemalatha took them to 219. In reply Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu, Shashikala Siriwardene and Nilakshi de Silva fought hard but couldn't get the job done as the Islanders were bowled out for 212 in 48.3 overs.
Earlier in the day, in-form Smriti Mandhana announced her arrival with three fours in the same over before falling to Udeshika Prabodhani (2 for 45). Before the dust had settled, the home side lost Punam Raut (3) and Harmanpreet Kaur (7) with just 36 runs on the board. Deepti Sharma stuck for a while but couldn't carry on, becoming Inoka Ranaweera's (1 for 40) only victim.
With wickets tumbling at the other end, Raj had no option but to take a cautious route. She finally found some support from 20-year-old Bhatia and allowed her to take the charge. The two added 76 runs for the fifth wicket. The stand was finally broken in the 39th over when Siriwardene got rid of Raj.
Bhatia, who smashed nine fours during her stay in the middle, fell to Prabodhani and it looked like India would fail to cross the 200-run mark. But that's when Hemalatha's cameo took India past 200 before Athapaththu picked up three wickets late in the innings to dent vistors' hopes of a late surge.
In reply, like their counterparts, Lankans too were rocked by early wickets. Prasadani Weerakkody (11), Nipuni Hansika (0) and Dilani Manodra (3) fell cheaply. It was only till Athapaththu and Siriwardene's 89-run stand, the home side looked in the game.
The two didn't go for too many shots but kept the scoreboard ticking. The stand ended after 150 deliveries when Siriwardene was run out for 91-ball 49. Shikha Pandey then dismissed Athapaththu for 95-ball 57, to reduce the hosts to 134 for 5.
Just when it looked like India would run away with the game, de Silva, coming in at No. 8, smoked two sixes and as many fours in space of two overs to turn the tide in Sri Lanka's favour.
With eight wickets down and 13 runs required in 18 deliveries, de Silva held the key. However, Mansi Joshi then got rid of her and brought India back in the game. Sharma (1 for 18) then got rid of Ranaweera to seal the match for India. It was only fair that wicketkeeper Bhatia was involved in the last two dismissals - a diving catch while running back, and a stumping - to help India win the match, and series.