Sri Lanka thump Malaysia; Verma's all-round heroics take India past Bangladesh
Sri Lanka beat Malaysia and India defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup © Asian Cricket Council
Sri Lanka kept themselves in the hunt for the semi-final with a dominating win over Malaysia, while a thoroughly professional performance from India saw them beat Bangladesh by runs on Saturday (October 8).
In the first match of the day, with semi-final spots on the line, Sri Lanka’s captain Chamari Athapaththu won the toss and opted to bat against Malaysia as they added Malsha Shehani to their playing XI. Sri Lanka were in early trouble when they lost the star of the previous match, Harshitha Madavi, for three in the second over. The powerplay became even more tricky for the batting side when Sasha Azmi clean-bowled Hasini Perera in the next over.
Athapathuthu and Nilakshi de Silva tried to put some life into the Sri Lankan batting innings after they were 23 for three at the end of the power play. The pair added 32 runs for the fourth wicket to steady the ship. Beautiful delivery from Ainna Hamizah Hashim drew an outside edge from Athapaththu, and wicketkeeper Aina Najwa took a sharp catch. Anushka Sanjeewani’s unfortunate run-out skittled Sri Lanka to 54 for five.
Oshadi Ranasinghe and Shehani batted aggressively to keep Sri Lanka in the contest and took them to 105 for seven in the first innings. For Malaysia, the 21-year-old Azmi was superb with the ball as she took two wickets, and gave away just ten runs in her four overs. Hashim also chipped in with two scalps, while Mahirah Izzati Ismail and Aisya Eleesa took a wicket each.
Malaysia had the opportunity to cause an upset in the tournament, and their captain Winifred Duraisingam started with a boundary in the first over. Her aggression led to her wicket, with Sugandika Kumari dismissing Duraisingam and Mas Elysa in the span of two balls. De Silva’s sharp throw caught Ismail short of her crease, and Malaysia were struggling at 12 for 3 at the end of the third over.
Elsa Hunter showed her batting prowess, but Sri Lanka spinners were in fine form. Shehani got rid of the dangerous-looking Hunter for 18 and that led to the collapse of Malaysia. They lost the last five wickets for two runs with Shehani taking four of them. The 27-year-old Shehani missed her hat trick but led Sri Lanka to a dominant victory by 72 runs to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
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In the second match of the day, India’s stand-in captain, Smriti Mandhana, won the toss against Bangladesh and opted to bat first. India rested Harmanpreet Kaur, Radha Yadav and Dayalan Hemalatha and decided to go with Shafali Verma, Sneh Rana and Kiran Navgire. Bangladesh added Lata Mondal to their squad as she replaced Shamima Sultana.
India got off to a flyer in the powerplay, with Mandhana and Shafali Verma going after Bangladesh’s bowlers. Mandhana walked down the track to send the ball over extra cover to register the first boundary for India. She went after experienced Salma Khatun to show her intent early on. Verma was not far behind as she smashed two fours and a massive six in Fariha Trisna’s second over. The pair clobbered 17 runs in the final over of the powerplay to take India to 59 without loss.
Bangladesh bowled well in the patches, but they were struggling to stop the flow of runs from the openers. The hosts got the lucky break as miscommunication between Verma and Mandhana led to the captain’s wicket at the non-strikers’ end for 47. The right-handed Verma kept going to smash a half-century off 40 balls, and en route became the youngest player to score 1000 T20I runs.
Immediately after reaching her milestone, Verma tried to reverse-sweep Rumana Ahmed but missed it completely, to get bowled for 55. The hosts held back in the death overs, with Ahmed taking two more wickets for herself. She missed on her well-deserved hat trick when she dropped Rodrigues off her own bowling in the penultimate over. Jemimah Rodrigues made the most of her opportunity with the bat to smash 35 off 24 balls to take India to 159 for five in the first innings.
Bangladesh needed a quick-fire start if they were to chase down the total, but Deepti Sharma and Renuka Singh Thakur kept the openers Fargana Hoque and Murshida Khatun in check. Mandhana introduced Vastrakar in the final over of the powerplay, and the openers freed their arms against the pacer to collect nine runs from it. The dot balls kept building after the powerplay leading to a rash shot from Khatun off Rana. Mandhana took an easy catch to break the partnership.
Captain Nigar Sultana played her shots but did not get much help from the other end as Rana took a catch to send Hoque back for 30. Fresh off her half-century in the first innings, Verma bowled really well to dash Bangladesh's hopes of chasing down the target. Her economical bowling yielded results in the final over of her spell when Richa Ghosh's lightning-quick work behind the stumps led to two wickets. The hosts lost four wickets for just four runs as India registered a win by 59 runs
Sri Lanka 105/7 in 20 overs (Oshadi Ranasinghe 23*; Sasha Azmi 2/10) beat Malaysia 33 all out in 9.5 overs (Elsa Hunter 18; Malsha Shehani 4/2) by 72 runs
India 159/5 in 20 overs (Shafali Verma 55; Rumana Ahmed 3/27) beat Bangladesh 100/7 in 20 overs (Nigar Sultana 36; Shafali Verma 2/10) by 59 runs