Chasing a par 123, Australia were in dire straits losing top three with just 10 runs on board, thanks to Udeshika Prabodhani’s fiery fast bowling. She not only gave away just four runs in her first two overs, but also cleaned bowled Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner for a duck and two respectively. The hosts then lost Beth Mooney, brilliantly stumped by Anushka Sanjeewani for just six off the bowling of Shashikala Siriwardene.
Thereafter, it was all about skipper Meg Lanning, playing her 100th T20I, and Haynes as the duo steadied the ship with a 95-run partnership for the fourth wicket. While Haynes anchored the innings, Lanning played second fiddle as the pair took on the Lankan bowlers with a cautious approach. With 52 runs needed in the last six overs, it looked as if Sri Lanka would pull off a victory, considering the way they were bowling.
But Haynes had other plans as the left-hander hit Sugandika Kumari for a couple of sixes in the 16th over to bring down the equation to 26 runs needed in 24 balls. She finally departed for a 47-ball 60. Lanning and Ellyse Perry (five not out) did the rest for Australia with three balls to spare. Sri Lanka had themselves to blame as they dropped as many as three catches taking their tournament tally to six.
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Earlier on a juicy green track, Australia made the best possible start dismissing opener Hasini Perera for a duck on the third ball of the match bowled by Megan Schutt. Down by an early setback, Sri Lanka recovered well with skipper Chamari Atapattu and Umesha Thimashini stitching together a 38-run partnership for the second wicket to resurrect the innings.
Playing her first match of the competition, Thimashini never looked in any sort of pressure as she hit the Australian bowlers at will. The left-hander was particularly explosive against Ellyse Perry as hitting the allrounder for a couple of boundaries each in the second and sixth overs – her beautiful drives were surely a treat to watch. However, Thimashini was dismissed for 20 when she miscued a Nicola Carey delivery gifting Jess Jonassen an easy catch just outside the 25-yard circle leaving the team 38 for the loss of two wickets in seven overs.
On the other hand, Atapattu started from where she had left in the previous game against New Zealand, bettering her 41 with a second T20I half-century. The 30-year-old didn’t hit too many boundaries but the way she single-handedly built the Sri Lankan innings with occasional ones and twos are worth mentioning. She was finally dismissed for a well-made 38-ball 50 in the 14th over.
Molly Strano, who was drafted into the squad at the 11th hour as a replacement for injured Tayla Vlaeminck, piled more misery for the islanders picking Anushka Sanjeewani (25) and Ama Kanchana (duck) in an over to give Australians the upper hand. Nilakshi de Silva opened her hands towards the end of with a run-a-ball 18 to help Sri Lanka reach 122 for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 122/6 in 20 overs (Chamari Atapattu 50; Nicola Carey 2/18, Molly Strano 2/23) lost to Australia 123/5 in 19.3 overs (Rachael Haynes 60, Meg Lanning 41*; Udeshika Prabodhani 2/17, Shashikala Siriwardene 2/20) by five wickets. PoTM: Rachael Haynes.