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Lanning 152* trumps Atapattu 178*

June 29th, 2017 | by admin
Lanning 152* trumps Atapattu 178*
Australia
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Australia 262 for 2 (Lanning 152*, Bolton 60, Perry 45*) beat Sri Lanka 257 for 9 (Atapattu 178*, Bolton 2-18) by eight wickets

This was a mismatch on paper. Sri Lanka were ranked eighth. They had never beaten Australia, the defending champions, in eight previous meetings. Chamari Atapattu, however, showed cricket isn’t played on paper, but out on the field. By smashing the third-highest score in women’s ODIs – an unbeaten 178, two more than Sri Lanka’s previous highest of 176 against Australia – she gave them more than a shout of pulling off a mighty upset with a score of 257 for 9. But, as was the case against New Zealand, poor fielding and catching let them down, and the defending champions broke open the deadlock and razed to an eight-wicket win in Bristol.

Nicole Bolton should have been out on 4 when wicketkeeper Prasadini Weerakkody fluffed a straightforward chance in the third over. Bolton made Sri Lanka pay by going on to make 60 – her second successive fifty-plus score of the tournament. While she couldn’t carry on, Meg Lanning, scratchy to begin with – scoring runs off edges – recovered from early rust to bring up her 11th hundred, the most in women’s ODIs. That meant Australia didn’t even have to flex their muscle to kill Sri Lanka’s hopes halfway through the chase. Lanning fittingly finished it off with a six, ending on her personal ODI best of 152 not out.

Lanning and Bolton exposed Sri Lanka’s one-dimensional spin-based attack during the course of their 133-run second-wicket stand. Ellyse Perry, who had an off day with the ball – conceding 52 off her eight overs – made up by backing the captain in an unbeaten 124-run stand. She remained unbeaten on 39 as Australia, who won with 37 balls to spare, hauled themselves to the top of the points table thanks to a superior net run rate after two rounds.

The manner in which Lanning asserted her authority early against spin, particularly off Shashikala Siriwardene, was the hallmark of her effort. Where Atapattu was all belligerence, Lanning punctured the bowling softly. She used her feet well to get to the pitch of the ball and drive inside-out, and put away anything in her driving arc on a surface where Australia’s spinners exposed a hint of grip if tossed up. Bolton slipped into the role of an accumulator, but was equally punishing against the long hops that came in routinely. This meant there was no pressure on Australia for most of the chase, not even when Sri Lanka finally got a breakthrough with Bolton’s wicket in the 26th over.

Yet, for its sheer audacity, Atapattu’s third ODI century was the standout innings of the game. During the course of her 143-ball vigil, she effortlessly showed different elements of her game – timing, ability to rotate strike and muscle in the end overs. She laid down the marker early, off Perry, who was getting the ball to bend back in to the left-hander. She followed a streaky top edge to fine leg with two glorious drives on the up. But her partners didn’t help one bit, by throwing away wickets, some to injudicious shots: the cream of the top order was out sweeping to full deliveries.

Lanning and Australia were briefly caught off guard by Sri Lanka’s fightback in the form of a 52-run stand for the fifth wicket between Siriwardene and Atapattu, before Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the space of four deliveries. At 130 for 6, Atapattu had no option but to go for broke. She lined herself to play the pull on demand and, on a flat deck, Australia were guilty of feeding her short balls, which she nonchalantly pulled. She hit 22 fours and six sixes in all to make up for close to 70% of her team’s runs, a record.

The other batsmen combined to make 60 off 157 balls, and it was perhaps there that Sri Lanka, despite Atapattu’s heroics, lost the plot. Sri Lanka’s best chance was to make early inroads and expose the middle order against the new ball, but that wasn’t to be. It wasn’t quite a mismatch, yet Australia’s utter dominance exposed the gulf that exists between both sides, who were at opposite ends of the points table early in the tournament.

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