Harmanpreet Kaur and Pooja Vastrakar’s all-round show, well aided by Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s three-fer helped India to a 39-run victory to clean sweep the three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka and wrap up their first round of IWC 2022-25 with all six points on offer.
Harmanpreet and Vastrakar were involved in a 97-run partnership for the seventh wicket that stabilised India after a mid-innings stutter to post a challenging 255/9 from their allotted overs. The India captain then got rid of her high flying counterpart, Chamari Athapaththu, in the 11th over to put the brakes on Sri Lanka’s chase before the rest of the bowling took charge to restrict them to 216 in reply.
Put in to bat first, India lost vice-captain Smrirti Mandhana cheaply in the seventh over but Shafali Verma (49) and Yastika Bhatia (30) stitched a 59-run stand to ensure they don’t lose the momentum. Bhatia, who scored 30 off 38, was the aggressor in this alliance while Verma, in a conscious effort admittedly, relied more on strike-rotation in her 50-ball 49 that consisted only five boundaries. However, in a brief window of comeback, Inoka Ranaweera managed to break the stand with the wicket of the left-hander before Rashmi de Silva struck twice in an over to get rid of both Verma and Harleen Deol as India lost three wickets for a mere addition of five runs.
Harmanpreet had only briefly stalled a freefall but India lost another couple of wickets in quick succession to slip to 124/6 in the 27th over. That’s when Vastrakar, coming in at no. 8, joined hands with the captain to bail India out of trouble. Harmanpreet played a dominant hand in this stand, not shying away from her shots as she hit seven boundaries and a couple of sixes in her 88-ball 75 that took India past the 200-run mark. Vastrakar, who raised her third ODI fifty, took charge after the captain departed and hit Athapaththu for a couple of sixes in the penultimate over to finish with an unbeaten 56 in India’s 255/9 that, at one point, looked far-fetched.
Set to chase their highest total in ODIs, Athapaththu led from the front to give the hosts a blistering start as she launched a flurry of boundaries in her 41-ball 44 after losing her opening partner cheaply. Harmanpreet, once again, came to India’s rescue as she introduced herself into the attack in the 11th over and struck off the sixth ball to deny the Sri Lankan her half-century. From there on, Sri Lanka struggled for any meaningful partnerships that were needed for the mammoth task at hand.
There were a couple worth 36 each, once when Hasini Perera (39) and a promoted Kavisha Dilhari (12) tried to find their way around dot-ball pressure created by India spinners, and another when the most consistent performer of the series for the hosts, Nilakshi de Silva (48 not out) combined with the vice-captain Harshitha Madavi (22 off 28) to arrest a slide triggered by Gayakwad’s twin strikes in successive overs.
When Deol finally managed the breakthrough with the wicket of Madavi, a fatal collapse followed where Sri Lanka lost four wickets for nine runs – Vastrakar striking twice in the period. Even as De Silva found some company in the tailenders to stall India, the total proved too tall a mountain to climb eventually as Sri Lanka went down by 39 runs.
Brief scores: India 255/9 in 50 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 75, Pooja Vastrakar 56*, Shafali Verma 49; Inoka Ranaweera 2-22) beat Sri Lanka 216 all out in 47.3 overs (Nilakshi de Silva 48*, Chamari Athapaththu 44; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 3-36, Pooja Vastrakar 2-33, Meghna Singh 2-32) by 39 runs.
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