Sri Lanka keep their nerve to qualify for semi-final; India ease past Thailand

Sri Lanka keep their nerve to qualify for semi-final; India ease past Thailand

Sri Lanka kept their nerve and India eased past Thailand © Asian Cricket Council

Sri Lanka kept their nerves in the rain-affected match to beat Bangladesh by three runs to secure the place in the semi-final of the Asia Cup, while India cemented their spot at the top of the table with a dominating victory over Thailand on Monday (October 10). 

At the Sylhet International Stadium, Bangladesh captain, Nigar Sultana, won the toss and opted to field with overcast conditions looming large. Shohely Akhter, Jahanara Alam, and Sobhana Mostary made it to the playing XI for the hosts, while Kavisha Dilhari and Achini Kulasuriya added firepower to Sri Lanka.

Alam started the proceedings for the hosts with a crucial wicket of captain Chamari Athapaththu with a beautiful delivery that swung late. The partnership between Harshitha Madavi and wicketkeeper Anushka Sanjeewani took Sri Lanka to 23 at the end of the powerplay without losing any more wickets. Madavi struggled with the bat and got caught behind trying to play a cut shot. 

Murshida Khatun caught Sanjeewani at midwicket off Rumana Ahmed immediately after Madavi’s dismissal to rock Sri Lanka’s innings. At the halfway mark, they were struggling at 36 for three. The partnership of 29 runs between Nilakshi de Silva and Hasini Perera kept Sri Lanka afloat. A sharp catch at deep midwicket from Mostary ended Perera’s knock. Dilhari tried to up the scoring rate in the death overs but found Mostary, who took another catch. 

With heavy rain, covers came up with Sri Lanka on 85 for five in the 19th over. De Silva remained unbeaten on 28 off 31 balls. For Bangladesh, Ahmed took two wickets.

A heavy downpour for almost an hour led to a revised target for the hosts. Bangladesh needed 41 runs in seven overs to make a case for the spot in the semi-final. Left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari gave away just three runs from her opening over to Murshida Khatun and Fargana Hoque. Sanjeewani’s lightning-quick work behind the stumps gave Sri Lanka a breakthrough in the second over, but captain Sultana smashed a boundary off the last ball to keep the home team’s hopes alive. 

Another sharp work from Sanjeewani gave Inoka Ranaweera her first wicket of the day when she dismissed Hoque for six. Bangladesh struggled to find a boundary but rotated the strike well to keep themselves in the competition. Ranaweera’s second over of the day turned the tables in favor of Sri Lanka as the hosts lost four wickets for just three runs. Ranasinghe defended 11 runs in the final over to help Sri Lanka book the semi-final spot in the Asia Cup.

Also Read: The many rescue acts of ‘saviour’ Sneh Rana

In the second match of the day, Smriti Mandhana, playing her 100th T20I for India, won the toss and invited Thailand to bat first. India rested Renuka Singh Thakur and added Meghana Singh to their playing XI, while Thailand included Nanthita Boonsukham in place of Banthida Leephatthana.

Deepti Sharma started the proceedings for India with a tight first over and gave away just one run. Nannapat Koncharoenkai smashed Singh for a boundary down the ground to show her intentions, and Natthakan Chantham did the same against Sharma. Chantham chopped on for six off Sharma to give India a breakthrough. A dot ball pressure continued to pile up as Thailand could only score 16 runs in the powerplay. 

Sneh Rana continued to create chances for India with her off-spin, which led to a wicket of Chanida Sutthiruang for a duck. Sharma’s direct hit at the non-striker’s end from point ended Nannapat Koncharoenkai’s stay in the middle for 12. Rana and Rajeshwari Gayakwad combined to take five wickets between them to skittle Thailand even more. 

Nattaya Boochatham found S Meghana at mid-off while trying to smash the low full-toss, and Thailand were bowled out for 37 runs in the 16th over. 

In the reply, Boochatham gave away three runs in her first over of the innings, but S Meghana smashed Thipatcha Putthawong for a boundary. Shafali Verma was not far behind as she added a four to her tally. Verma tried to go for a big shot, but lost her shape and ended up top-edging as Sornnarin Tippoch took an easy catch.

India continued with their batting order rotation policy and sent Pooja Vastrakar at three after Cerma's early dismissal.  There was some resistance from Boochatham, but Vastrakar and Meghana clobbered 18 runs from the final over of the powerplay to take India over the line. With that win, India sealed the top spot in the points table with 10 points from six group stage matches.

Brief Score

Sri Lanka 83/5 in 18.1 overs (Nilakshi de Silva 28*; Rumana Ahmed 2/14) beat Bangladesh 37/7 in 7 overs (Nigar Sultana 12; Inoka Ranaweera 4/7) by three runs (via DLS method)

Thailand 37 all out in 15.1 overs (Nannapat Koncharoenkai 12; Sneh Rana 3/9) lost to India 40/1 in six overs (S Meghana 20*; Nattaya Boochatham 1/15) by nine wickets

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