Dambulla (Sri Lanka) : Captain Chamari Athapaththu’s brilliant 48-ball unbeaten 80 helped Sri Lanka beat India by seven wickets in the third match of the T20I series here on Monday.
Sri Lanka, who had already conceded the series and never beaten India in a home game, chased down the target of 139 in the 17th over.
After losing twelve T20I matches on the trot against India, Sri Lanka managed to salvage pride after conceding the series with back-to-back defeats.
Athapaththu averages 22.57 in T20Is, but when she captained Sri Lanka to victory, she averages 42.61 and strikes at 142.41. Her best version was on show on Monday.
The Sri Lanka skipper showed her class and quality with an inside-out stroke over covers off Deepti Sharma in the fourth over. She followed it up with a sweep while facing Radha Yadav in the very next over.
Her partnership with Harshitha Madavi, who also started on a good note made it easy for the hosts. However, Madavi was dismissed by Radha, caught at deep midwicket.
After the departure of Madavi, the experienced Nilakshi de Silva (30) joined forces with her captain to help the team inch closer to the target.
Athapaththu was again the mainstay of the game-changing 77-run alliance and reached her fifty in style with a cut stroke off Simran Bahadur.
At the other end, Nilakshi was also authoritative with her pulls and lofts. She was happy to play her strokes as well, hitting Pooja Vastrakar down the ground before swiping Simran Dil Bahadur over the onside.
Eventually, on the back of a good throw from Simran, Nilakshi was run out in the 15th over. Athapaththu and Nilakshi added 77 in just 57 balls — the highest third-wicket stand for Sri Lanka in the format — before de Silva was run out.
After that, it was Athapaththu who remained in the middle to ensure Sri Lanka’s consolation win.
Earlier, India’s batters failed against a formidable bowling attack from Sri Lanka and were restricted to 138, which eventually was not enough.
Smriti Mandhana found the going tough in scoring 22 off 21, and fell to Oshadi Ranasinghe for the second time in three games.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur compiled an unbeaten 39 off 33 balls to pilot her side to a competitive total while Jemimah Rodrigues, who has been in fine form in this series, also made a useful contribution (33 off 30 balls) and stitched a partnership of 64 with Harmanpreet for the fourth wicket. Apart from this, there was nothing that worked for the visitors in the match.
Brief scores: India Women 138/5 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 39; Oshadi Ranasinghe 1-13) lost to Sri Lanka Women 141/3 in 17 overs (Chamari Athapaththu 80 not out; Renuka Singh 1-27) by seven wickets.