Whoever said women's cricket can't ring in excitement should have been at the Brabourne Stadium on Friday.
Sri Lanka made a mockery of their underdog tag as they stunned defending champions England by one wicket in a nail-biting World Cup Group A league encounter on Friday.
Lanka required nine off the final over and one of the last ball. Throwing caution to the winds, the No 10 bat, Dilani Surangaika, smashed a six over mid-wicket to spark wild celebrations in her camp.
Chasing 239 for their first win against England in any format, Sri Lanka almost squandered a solid start after their middle-order collapsed.
But a hard-hitting 56 (41b, 5x4, 3x6) from Eshani Kaushalya in the end gave them confidence to look ahead with lot of hope.
Kaushalya was dropped early in her innings and England paid the price for the mistake. “It was a big knock and I believed today was a lucky day,” she said.
“Even though wickets were falling, the next person coming in could bat, so I had the faith that we would finish the match.”
Openers Chamari Atapattu and Yasoda Mendis shared a 103-run opening stand to unsettle the English attack. Atapattu's 62 (72b, 7x4, 1x6) did not allow English to find their groove while Mendis chipped in with a measured 46 (90b, 6x4).
The Lankans lost wickets at regular intervals after the fall of Atapattu, and the asking rate shot up gradually.
But player-of-the-match, Kaushalya, who also took two wickets, scored at a brisk pace.
An elated Sri Lanka captain Shashikala Siriwardene said: “When we played against them in 2010, we lost by five runs. We always had faith in our bowling and fielding. It was a complete team effort.”
England fumbled early on in their innings and were stranded at 29/3, with veteran Chamani Seneviratna striking twice in the Power Play.
Jenny Gunn top-scored with a patient 52 (71b, 4x4), stitching partnerships with Heather Knight (38) and Amy Jones (41).
The Sri Lankans were sharp on the field, with hardly any misfields, and the bowling, with heady mix of spin and pace, consistently troubled the English.
England did not have the services of their key player and wicket-keeper batswoman Sarah Taylor due to a hamstring injury, but is expected to be fit for the next game against India.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.