Sri Lanka translated the confidence gained from their warm-up schedule into an opening match victory over the United States of America (USA) in the inaugural ICC Under19 Women’s T20 World Cup in Benoni.
Chasing a none-too-imposing target of 97 to win after the USA, who won the toss and elected to bat, had only made 96/9 in their innings, the Sri Lankans took the slow burn route in a steady chase that only concluded in the final ball of the 19th over.
Just as she had done in Sri Lanka’s seven-wicket win in the warm-up against Scotland on Wednesday, Vishmi Gunarathne was the steady influence with a measured captain’s knock of 34 not out from 40 balls (two fours) as she and Manudi Nanayakkara compiled an unbeaten partnership of 54 to guide their team home.
Nanayakkara, who scored 32 off 31 balls (one four and one six), would seal the deal with a six off the final ball of a 19th over – bowled by Ritu Priya Singh – which went for 16 runs.
Early wickets by Bhumika Bhadriraju (2/17) and Snigdha Paul (1/2 off three overs with 17 dot balls) gave the US hope of victory, but they never had enough runs to play with.
Having started promisingly with the opening pair of Laasaya Mullapudi and Disha Dhingra putting on a partnership of 28, the States fell into a depressing pattern of losing wickets regularly after the former was trapped in front for three by Dewmi Vihanga Wijerathne.
The steady procession between the wicket and the pavilion was such that only three batters made it into double figures, with Ritu Priya Singh top-scoring with 22 (23 balls, three fours) and Dinghra making a watchful 18 (26 balls) before being run out.
After starting the rot with her dismissal of Mullapudi, off-spinner Wijerathne would go on to be the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with pristine figures of 3/11 off her four overs, with Vidushika Perera chipping in with a couple of wickets of her own for 15.
As it turned out, that would prove to be half the job done.
Scores in brief:
Toss: USA, who elected to bat.
USA 96 for 9 in 20 overs (Ritu Priya Singh 22, Disha Dhingra 18, Dewmi Vihanga Wijerathne three for 11, Vidushika Perera two for 15)
Sri Lanka 100 for three in 19 overs (Vishmi Gunarathne 34 not out, Manudi Nanayakkara 32 not out, Bhumika Bhadriraju two for 17, Snigdha Paul one for 2)
Sri Lanka won by seven wickets, with six balls to spare.