Deepti Sharma starred with the bat and ball as India beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in a low-scoring first ODI in Pallekele on Friday.
After veteran spinner Inoka Ranaweera’s four-wicket spell put India in a perilous position in their chase, Deepti Sharma (22 off 41 balls) and Pooja Vastrakar (21 off 19 balls) took India home in their first ODI match since Mithali Raj’s retirement.
With that win, India also got off the mark in the ICC Women’s Championship cycle for 2022-’25.
ICC Women's Championship Standings
Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu opted to bat first after winning the toss on a turning Pallekele pitch. The home side got off to the worst possible start losing their captain in the third over after Athapaththu knicked one behind off Renuka Singh for two runs. Hansima Karunaratne’s stay didn’t last long either as she fell trying to hit Deepti Sharma out of the ground.
Hasini Perera stood unfazed and was aggressive in her approach against the Indian attack smashing five boundaries during her stay.
However, she fell trying to sweep Deepti and was given out leg before wicket. Kavisha Dilhari and Harshitha Samarawickrama soon followed as Sri Lanka lost half their side for 84 after 23 overs.
Nilakshi de Silva and Anushka Sanjeewani tried to rebuild the Sri Lankan innings in their 15-over partnership but found runs hard to come by. Harmanpreet Kaur used eight different bowlers including herself as a disciplined Indian attack rarely erred from their line and lengths.
Nilakshi’s patient stay at the crease ended at 43 after she missed a slow leg cutter from Renuka Singh which crashed into her pads. The tail put up 27 runs to set India a target of 172.
For India, Renuka Singh and Deepti Sharma picked up three wickets apiece with Pooja Vastrakar taking two. Skipper Harmanpreet and spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad picked up a wicket each.
India got off to a rocky start in their chase losing Smriti Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia to Oshadi Ranasinghe. Shafali Verma was aggressive in her approach as always as she whacked Ranaweera for two sixes.
Ranaweera, however, had the last laugh after she tempted Shafali to come down the track. The ball turned away from Shafali giving keeper Sanjeewani an easy stumping.
Harmanpreet and Harleen Deol steadied the ship for India and kept the scoreboard ticking as they put up 62 runs for the fourth wicket in 10 overs.
Just as it seemed India would coast to a comfortable win, Ranaweera struck twice in back-to-back overs to get rid of Harmanpreet and Harleen. The veteran off-spinner made it three in three when Richa Ghosh edged one to the keeper.
However, Deepti and Vastrakar held their grounds to bring India home with 12 overs to spare.
The two sides will return to Pallekele on July 4 for the second match of the three-match ODI series that is part of the ICC Women’s Championship.