Kaushalya stars in stunning Sri Lankan win

A brilliant counter-attacking half-century from Eshani Kaushalya helped Sri Lanka hunt down a challenging target of 239 to pull off a stunning one-wicket upset in a last-ball finish against England in a Group A match of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2013 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Friday (February 1).

Chasing England’s total of 238 for 8, Sri Lanka began well enough, with Chamari Atapattu and Yasoda Mendis, the openers, putting on 103 in good time. England, however, refused to let go, and a combination of tight bowling and efficient fielding got it back into the game.

When Kaushalya came to the crease, at No. 6, Sri Lanka still needed 86 from 85 balls. As Kaushalya settled in, the required run rate climbed higher, but she was undaunted, and backed herself to play the big shot when the opportunity presented itself. Faced with aggression, England’s bowlers let things slip, both short deliveries and full tosses being supplied generously. Kaushalya took full toll, 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.

The game still not settled, though, as Georgia Elwiss, taking the pace of her right-arm mediums, got in two dot balls. Dilani Manodara, who had sent back Kaushalya in the run out earlier in the over, had struck the ball firmly, but only found the fielders inside the circle. With just a single needed off the final delivery, the field was up, and sensing the opportunity, Manodara gave a length ball everything she had, and easily cleared the midwicket fence even as her overjoyed team-mates burst onto the field to celebrate the moment.

Earlier, a late flourish by Jennifer Gunn, the right-hand bat, and some steadying knocks by the lower middler order, saw Englandput up 238 for 8. Gunn, who scored 52 off 71 deliveries, was the cornerstone of England’s lacklustre batting effort after Sri Lankahad put it in on a hazy morning.

England, the reigning champion, was in for a rude wake-up call when Sri Lanka made early inroads, picking up three wickets inside the first eight overs. Kaushalya, the right-arm pace bowler, provided a major breakthrough when she cleaned up Charlotte Edwards, the England captain playing her fifth World Cup when she tried to hit across the line.

An early bowling change saw Chamani Seneviratna, the right-arm pace bowler, pick up two quick wickets. Seneviratna dismissed Danielle Wyatt, the opener, and Lydia Greenway, the left-hand batter, when England had put just 29 runs on the board in 7.5 overs.

Thereafter, England showed some resistance through Arran Brindle and Heather Knight, who put on a 64-run stand for the fourth wicket before Brindle was caught short of her crease returning for a second run. Brindle (31) and Knight (38) added their runs at a run-a-ball with some occasional big hitting to hold the innings together.

Amy Jones, coming in at No. 7, was involved in an 83-run stand with Gunn for the sixth wicket as the England innings returned to an even keel after Knight’s dismissal. Jones, 19 and making her international debut, showed no signs of nerves as she scored 41 off 49 balls before being bowled by Shashikala Siriwardena, the Sri Lankan captain.

Cameos by Katherine Brunt (12 off 5 balls) and Danielle Hazell (19 off 8 balls) spared England the blushes as it went past the 200-run mark.

(Courtesy: International cricket council)