South Africa suffered an agonizing three-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka as the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup South Africa 2023 kicked off with a bang at a sold-out Newlands Cricket Ground on Friday.
Sri Lanka successfully defended their first innings total of 129/4 thanks to an all-round bowling effort led by Inoka Banaweera (3/18) after inspirational captain, Chamari Athapaththu smashed a 50-ball 68 that consisted of an impressive 12 boundaries.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat, the sub-continent outfit navigated a tricky opening spell at the crease with a steady partnership between Athapaththu and Harshitha Samarawickrama (8) before the former combined brilliantly with Vishmi Gunaratne (35) to set up a second wicket stand worth 86 runs.
The game-changing combination was finally broken in the 18th over after Tazmin Brits brilliantly ran out Gunaratne prior to Marizanne Kapp (1/15) getting the all-important wicket of the dangerous Athapaththu the very next ball.
The Sri Lankans eventually finished on 129/4 after their allotted overs with Proteas bowler, Shabnim Ismail (1/22) taking the final wicket to fall in the 20th over. Nadine de Klerk (1/38) was the other South African wicket-taker after the all-rounder made the initial breakthrough in the innings.
With the bat, the Proteas Women struggled to find consistent rhythm in their chase as a fall of regular wickets and a stifling bowling attack led by the Sri Lankan spinners restricted South Africa’s scoring opportunities.
Despite the best efforts of Suné Luus (28), Laura Wolvaardt (18) and Sinalo Jafta (15), the Proteas were unsuccessful in their attempts to keep up with the required run-rate as Sri Lanka wrapped up the result, limiting South Africa to 126/9, to seal a memorable win over the host nation.
Athapaththu was named the Player of the Match following her match-winning performance, while South Africa turn their attention to their second Group A clash against New Zealand taking place at Boland Park in Paarl on Monday, 13 February.
(With inputs from ICC Media Release)