Sri Lanka stun hosts South Africa in thrilling T20 World Cup opener

    Sri Lanka produced a stunning upset to beat tournament hosts South Africa on a hugely entertaining opening night of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

    Women’s T20 World Cup
    10 Feb 23

    Sri Lanka stun South Africa in tournament opener | Women’s T20 World Cup 2023

    The inspired Lankans successfully defended 129 after skipper Chamari Athapaththu’s excellent 68 had helped them to a competitive total on a glorious Cape Town evening.

    And, with the sun setting behind Table Mountain, it was the spin trio of Sri Lanka who did much of the damage, with South Africa falling three runs short and with just one wicket remaining.

    All of the South African top five reached double figures in the chase, but wickets fell at regular intervals as Sri Lanka’s bowlers delivered in style to earn them a huge victory. Seven wickets fell to spin in all, with the remaining two being run-outs.

    The tournament hosts had won the toss and opted to bowl first at a packed-out Newlands, with Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp turning the screw in the first few overs, playing a big part in restricting the score to 28/0 after the powerplay.

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    First wicket of Women’s T20 World Cup 2023

    Harshitha Samarawickrama departs for 8 in the opening match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023

    Nadine de Klerk struck in her first over to remove Harshitha Samarawickrama (8), but skipper Athapaththu and 17-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne (35) accelerated superbly through the middle overs to put the Proteas under pressure.

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    Tazmin Brits was quick on her feet to dismiss Vishmi Gunarathne in the opening match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

    Some outstanding death bowling from Kapp and Ismail, combined with inspired fielding from Tazmin Brits, restricted Sri Lanka at the back end to limit them to 129/4.

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    10 Feb 23

    Innings Highlights: South Africa v Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka Innings Highlights from the opening match of the Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

    Tazmin Brits fell early to a catch in the covers, but South Africa laid the platform for the chase, reaching 38/1 at the end of the powerplay overs.

    However, some outstanding bowling saw Sri Lanka remove both Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt to leave the Proteas at 56/3 at the midway point of the reply.

    And a double-wicket over saw Chloe Tryon and Anneke Bosch sent back to the hutch to leave the tournament hosts in trouble, with the required rate climbing as the game headed for the death overs.

    The game was on a knife edge as wickets continued to fall, with a stumping ending Sune Luus’ (28) resistance and a brilliant run out sending Sinalo Jafta (15) back.

    And the superb Sugandika Kumari held her nerve in the final over to seal the win for Sri Lanka, with South Africa ending three runs short.

    The make-up of Group 1 means that South Africa will now have to likely beat both of the group’s higher-ranked sides (Australia and New Zealand) if they are to reach the semi-finals.

    It’s a huge blow for the tournament hosts, who will have to play out of their skins if they are to repeat their 2020 efforts and qualify for the final four.

    The Kiwis are up next on Monday for Luus and her side. Lose that and they will effectively be out.

    Sri Lanka’s captain has been a rock at the top of the order for many years, and turned on the style at the start of her latest major international tournament.

    It was the skipper who relieved the pressure after some tight opening overs, creaming back-to-back fours to get things ticking, and she accelerated as she went through a superb innings.

    Women’s T20 World Cup
    10 Feb 23

    Athapaththu half-century props up Sri Lanka | Player Highlights

    Chamari Athapaththu scored a fine 68 as Sri Lanka posted 129/4 in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 opener against South Arica.

    A catch in the deep sent her back to the dugout for 68 from 50 deliveries, and her furious reaction showed that she had every intention of going big at the death to boost her side.

    But one of the encouraging elements of the first innings for Athapaththu was that she didn’t have to do it all on her own. Teenager Gunaratne played very well at the recent ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, and showed that she has the quality to step up to senior level with a classy 35 from 34 that bodes extremely well for the future.

    Athapaththu was sensational in the field too, and deservedly picked up the Player of the Match award.

    The Sri Lankan spinners tied South Africa in knots in the second innings.

    Kumari was brilliant with her 2/28 and Oshadi Ranasinghe proved extremely tough to get away with her 2/20.

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    But it was Inoka Ranaweera who was the pick, taking 3/18 in her four overs and picking up the crucial wicket of Luus just when it looked like the home side might escape.

    On these sticky South African surfaces it will be fascinating to see how future opponents deal with the spin trio.

    South Africa’s spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba has surged up the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Bowling Rankings of late, with only Sophie Ecclestone above her.

    But a painful blow to the thumb slightly limited her impact in Friday’s game, and instead it was the experienced speedsters of Kapp and Ismail who stood out.

    The pacy Ismail went for just three runs in her two powerplay overs, recording a maiden in her second over, and finishing with tidy figures of 1/22.

    And Kapp’s quality also shone through, with the all-rounder going at just 3.75 across her four overs, taking 1/15.

    The pair’s efforts didn’t prove to be quite enough, but they will be crucial if the Proteas are to recover from this loss

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