Chamari Athapaththu Scores 195 In Record Chase

(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette) Sri Lanka completed the highest successful chase in women's ODIs, against South Africa, and the only one over 300 thanks to a sensational 195* from their captain Chamari Athapaththu.

She finished with her career-best ODI score and the third-highest individual score by a batter in women's ODIs to help Sri Lanka level the series 1-1.

In a battle of the captains, Athapaththu's knock trumped Laura Wolvaardt's 184* – the highest by a South African player and her fourth hundred since being named captain last September. She led South Africa to their fifth-highest ODI score and highest against Sri Lanka but it was not enough.

Athapaththu and Nilakshika de Silva shared in a 179-run fifth-wicket partnership – the second-highest stand for the fifth-wicket or lower in the women's game – and rescued Sri Lanka from 126 for 4 in the 21st over. Crucially, Sri Lanka gained two points on the Women's Championship table, which determines qualification for the 2025 ODI World Cup. They move up to seventh spot and remain in the race for automatic entry to India next year – the top five teams along with the hosts will go through – with six matches left to play.

Sri Lanka leave South Africa after their most successful visit to these shores. Along with a squared ODI series, they won the T20I series 2-1 – their first series win over South Africa. In the immediate aftermath of that win, Athapaththu hinted at international retirement but the form she displayed in the third ODI in Potchefstroom suggested she is nowhere near ready to put the bat down.

Sri Lanka had never scored 300 in an ODI before, much less chased that much but on a flat pitch with a fast outfield, Athapaththu fancied their chances. She hit the ball cleanly, was brutal straight down the ground and quick between the wickets and that was after opening the bowling and delivering a full quota of ten overs with a return of 1 for 59.

She was the senior partner in her opening stand with 18-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne and took the fight to South Africa. They put on 90 inside 16 overs before Gunaratne was given out lbw to Delmi Tucker, who was also involved in the second wicket. She took a good catch at backward point to dismiss Prasadani Weerakkody off Nadine de Klerk's bowling and South Africa sensed an opportunity to make inroads into Sri Lanka's middle order.

Wolvaardt brought back Ayabonga Khaka, playing in her 100th ODI, and she had immediate success. She had Hansima Karunaratne caught behind, chasing a wide one, off the first ball of her fourth over and Kavisha Dilhari caught behind down the leg side two balls later. Sinalo Jafta took both catches but the second one did her dirty as her shoulder hit the ground awkwardly and she had to leave the field. Uncapped 16-year-old Karabo Meso replaced her behind the stumps and thought she had wicket off De Silva's first ball but umpire Jacqueline Williams was unmoved. Sri Lanka were 126 for 4 in the 21st over and Athapaththu was still there.

The Sri Lankan captain was unfazed by the mini-collapse and simply kept batting. She brought up a hundred off 78 balls in the 26th over and kept Sri Lanka on track as South Africa unraveled. Their fielding was sloppy; overthrows were offered aplenty and importantly, Athapaththu was dropped on 128 by Sune Luus in deep mid-wicket off Nonkululeko Mlaba in the 32nd over. At the time, Sri Lanka still needed 106 runs from 18.3 overs.

Athapaththu made the most of her let-off and continued to breeze her way through the chase with Silva providing strong support and South Africa losing their way. They sent down 19 wides and two no-balls in total and Sri Lanka cashed in. Athapaththu and de Silva combined boundary hitting with exceptional strike rotation and reached the target with five-and-half-overs – 33 balls – to spare to share the trophy. (ESPN Cricinfo)


Colombo Gazette

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