Taniya Bhatia after scoring her maiden half-century in her 2nd ODI. ©SLC

In their second match against Sri Lanka, India emerged on top in an absolute nail-biter to win by six runs. They now lead 2-0 in a three-match series.

India won the toss and opted to bat first. However, they soon found themselves in trouble having been reduced to 18-2, with both openers- the in-form SmritiMandhana (14 off 14) and Punam Raut (3 off 15)- back in the dugout. Harmanpreet Kaur followed them soon afterwards, having scored just seven off 12 balls.

It was then up to the most experienced captain in women’s cricket history, Mithali Raj to steady the ship. She first combined with Deepti Sharma for a 30 run partnership and then with wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia for a 76 run stand. Raj went on to score 52 runs off 121 deliveries, her 51st half-century. Bhatia also scored a quick-fire half-century, her first, amassing 68 runs in 66 balls. Dayalan Hemalatha contributed a valuable 35 off 31 balls towards the end of them to boost the total past 200. Sri Lanka needed 220 runs to win.

The Sri Lankan bowlers did a brilliant job of restricting the Indians to just 219. Captain Chamari Attapaththu took three wickets for 42 runs from her eight overs, while Udeshika Prabodhani and Sripali Weerakkody chipped in with two wickets each.

In the second innings, Sri Lanka lost opener Prasadani Weerakkody cheaply. The next two wickets also fell in quick succession and the hosts’ found themselves at 40-3. From there, skipper Attapaththu and Siriwardene combined for an 89 run partnership that salvaged the innings. Siriwardene was dismissed for a well-made 49 and Attapaththu fell soon afterwards, having scored 57.

A mini-collapse followed as the Indian bowlers struck regularly. At 165-7, Sri Lanka was in trouble. Nilakshi de Silva then came in to sway the game in her team’s favour, scoring a quick-fire 19-ball-31. Her efforts helped bring the equation to 20 needed off 27 and Sri Lanka started to believe they could break their 9- match losing streak.

However, it was not to be. de Silva top-edged a delivery by Mansi Joshi, the ball soared upwards and was brilliantly caught by wicket-keeper Bhatia.  A win was still possible if the tail-enders had played calmly and dealt in singles, but it was not to be. Deepti Sharma took the last wicket to help India seal a narrow six-run win.

For India, Mansi Joshi performed well again, claiming three scalps for 51 runs from her nine overs. Rajeshwari Gayakwad took two wickets, while Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma contributed with a wicket each.

India has now gone up 2-0 in a three-match series and has taken an unassailable lead.