Wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia starred for India as they defeated Sri Lanka in Galle by seven runs in a thrilling second One-day International of the ICC Women’s Championship on Thursday.
After their thumping nine-wicket win in the first ODI, India now have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. They also added two points in the race for automatic qualification to the 2021 World Cup, moving to eight points from eight matches.
A crucial 66-ball 68 from wicket-keeper Bhatia made all the difference to India’s total and she followed that up by three dismissals from behind the stumps – two great catches and the decisive final stumping.
Mithali Raj won the toss and opted to bat first at the Galle International stadium.
After losing the in-form Smriti Mandhana early on for just 3 and fellow opener Punam Raut on the same score, India were reduced to 18/2 and pushed on the back foot as runs were hard to come by. Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur departed cheaply as well. From there on, captain Mithali and Deepti Sharma staged a mini-recovery. The decisive contribution to India’s innings, though, came from Bhatia, playing her second ODI and batting for the first time.
Even as Raj reached her 51st ODI half century, playing a patient hand, Bhatia was scoring quick runs. She eventually got to a quickfire half century herself and was the sixth batter to be dismissed, but not before taking India to a competitive total.
Dayalan Hemlatha (35 off 31 balls) also propped up the scoreboard, taking the team closer to the 220-run mark. It could have been more but India lost four wickets in the final over with part-time seamer Chamari Atapattu taking three for 42.
Sri Lanka’s innings proceeded at a steady pace from the start, without ever taking off. India managed to get early breakthroughs. With the hosts losing three wickets by the 11th over, all the onus was once again on captain Chamari Atapattu, who staged a recovery in the company of Shashikala Siriwardene.
While Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad were keeping the run-rate in check, the Sri Lankan duo built a hard-fought partnership of 89 runs, which was eventually broken in the 36th over with Siriwardene getting run out on 49.
Atapattu was soon dismissed by Shikha Pandey to reduce the Lankans to 135/5 in 37 overs. The score then became 165/7 in 41.3 overs (55 needed from 51 balls at that point) when two wickets fell in one over off Poonam Yadav.
Just when it looked like India were clear favourites to win, the Sri Lankan lower order staged a tremendous fightback. The acceleration came from Nilakshi de Silva, who smashed two sixes in an over by Yadav to reduce the pressure on the hosts. But with victory in sight, De Silva played one big shot too many and Bhatia took a great running catch, with Mansi Joshi delivering the crucial strike.
With only eight required off the last two overs, Mithali asked off-spinner Deepti Sharma to bowl the penultimate over. Last batter Inoka Ranaweera was stumped by Bhatia as she went for a wild slog, giving India victory.
Brief Scores: India 219 in 50 overs (Tanya Bhatia 68 off 66 balls, Mithali Raj 52 off 121 balls). Sri Lanka 212 in 48.1 overs (Chamari Atapattu 57, Shashikala Sriwardene 49, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/37, Mansi Joshi 3/51). India won by 7 runs.