Deepti Sharma became the first Indian, male or female, to reach 100 T20I wickets as she set up India’s six-wicket victory against the West Indies in Cape Town on Wednesday (February 15). On a wicket aiding the slower bowlers, Deepti finished with excellent figures of 3 for 15 from her four overs to restrict the opposition to 118/6. India stuttered a bit in the chase but a 72-run partnership between Richa Ghosh (44* off 32, 5 4s) and Harmanpreet Kaur (33 off 42, 3 4s) helped them over the line with 11 deliveries to spare to make it two wins out of two.
Shafali set the tone for the chase by striking three fours off Shamilia Connell in the opening over and followed it up with a boundary off Chinelle Henry. The bowler was also hit for two more fours by Smriti Mandhana, returning to the playing eleven after missing the first game due to a finger injury. Mandhana’s stay, however, was a short one as she was stumped off Karishma Ramharack in the fourth over and Hayley Matthews took a sharp catch off her own bowling to send Jemimah Rodrigues back to the hut. A boundary for Shafali off Ramharack helped India end the powerplay at 41/2.
A tight over from Matthews followed and in her bid to up the ante Shafali became the third to depart as she slog-swept Ramharack straight to deep backward square leg. The onus was on Harmanpreet and Ghosh to stabilise India’s innings and the Indian captain, after a slow start, struck successive fours off Afy Fletcher in an over that yielded 16 runs. Just before that, Stafanie Taylor had to be stretchered off the field after injuring herself while throwing. Meanwhile, offspinner Ramharack continued to strangle India as she gave away only four runs off her final over to finish with impressive figures of 2 for 14, with India managing only 64 in the first half of their innings.
But Connell ended up going for nine in her second over, which included a boundary for Ghosh, while Harmanpreet swept a full toss from Fletcher for a boundary to bring the equation down to 27 off the last six overs. Fletcher was also guilty of not collecting a throw properly, which would have given West Indies the chance to run Harmanpreet out. The half-century stand was raised shortly after, with the fourth wicket pair pacing their partnership well, with plenty of singles and twos interspersed with boundaries. India crossed 100 at the start of the 16th over when Ghosh pulled Henry for a four. Ghosh then hit two fours off Gajnabi and despite Henry dismissing Harmanpreet and bowling a maiden, India’s wicketkeeper-bat finished it off with a four in the penultimate over off Connell.
Earlier, after opting to bat, West Indies were sluggish during the powerplay as they managed only 29 runs and also lost Matthews early in the innings. Pooja Vastrakar got the West Indies captain edging to the ‘keeper with a delivery that moved late, dismissing Matthews for the fifth time, as she started with a wicket-maiden. Vastrakar conceded only five runs from her first two overs and despite Taylor and Shemaine Campbelle managing a few boundaries, West Indies could not make the most of the fielding restrictions.
The second wicket pair did pick up pace as the innings progressed, managing regular boundaries and rotating the strike well, as they added 73. But the set batters fell in quick succession to Deepti – Campbelle fell to a reverse sweep, with Mandhana taking a diving catch, while India used to review to send Taylor back lbw. Chinelle Henry was run out soon after as West Indies slipped to 79/4.
Shabika Gajnabi and Chedean Nation struck a boundary each off Devika Vaidya in the 17th over, and the former also edged a Vastrakar delivery for a four. But she fell to Renuka Singh and Deepti added another wicket to her tally by having Fletcher bowled in the final over, as India conceded 36 in the last five overs to complete a tidy job with the ball.
West Indies women 118/6 in 20 overs (Stafanie Taylor 42, Shemaine Campbelle 30; Deepti Sharma 3-15) lost to India women 119/4 in 18.1 overs (Richa Ghosh 44*, Harmanpreet Kaur 33; Karishma Ramharack 2-14) by 6 wickets.
Decision on sexual assault case against Danushka Gunathilaka next Thursday (28)
The hearing of the sexual assault case against Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilake before the New South Wales District Court concluded today (21) and Judge Sarah Huggett will hand down her decision next Thursday (28).
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Selectors make ‘U’ turn after requesting Shanaka to step down
by Rex Clementine
The national selection panel that met yesterday made a complete ‘U’ turn having earlier requested captain Dasun Shanaka to step down in the lead up to next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup to be played in India. After Sri Lanka’s horrendous show in the Asia Cup final, where the team was bowled out for 50 runs, their lowest total at home, someone had to be scapegoated and Dasun Shanaka fitted the selectors’ bill.
The captain had been informed to step down so that a new captain could be appointed and accordingly Kusal Mendis was tipped to take over. Team management had endorsed Mendis highlighting him as the player who contributed most during team meetings. He was anyway deputy to Dasun in ODIs.
Although Dasun had expressed his willingness to step aside so that the selectors could make the change, the national selection panel decided to retain Dasun following a meeting yesterday.
While a section of the public had wanted the captain gone due to an extended run of poor form with the bat, some others had argued that axing the captain on the verge of an event like the World Cup wasn’t the most sensible move.
Had Dasun stepped down, he was in fear of not finding a place in the team as well as the selectors had wanted the new captain to make the call of having or not having the misfiring ex-captain in the team.
Despite the debacle in the final, Sri Lanka had done well to progress to the finals of the Asia Cup having beaten Afghanistan and Pakistan and Bangladesh twice. There were fears of the team not progressing beyond the first round after the bowling attack was completely depleted with injuries.
Although Dasun has been now retained as the captain, he will be under tremendous pressure to deliver following a string of low scores. Having said that, he was Sri Lanka’s best batter when the national cricket team toured India earlier this month.
Sri Lanka will leave for India next week and will be based in Guwahati where they will play two warm-up games against Asian rivals Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka’s first game of the World Cup is against South Africa on the 7th of October in Delhi.
Arachchige to lead second-string Sri Lanka side at the Asian games
Sri Lanka have announced a young squad for the 2023 Asian Games – essentially a Sri Lanka A side – with Sahan Arachchige set to lead the 15-member squad.
Among those with international caps, Ashen Bandara tops the list with 11 white-ball games under his belt. Nuwanidu Fernando and Nuwan Thushara have played four games each, while Arachchige has played two ODIs.
A majority of the team have however appeared in the Lanka Premier League (LPL), so fans may not be completely unfamiliar with some of these names, but this will be a good opportunity to observe them over a more consistent period.
Most of the excitement will arguably surround the batters, with the likes of Lasith Croospulle, Shevon Daniel, Fernando and Arachchige having popped up on the radar during the most recent LPL season.
Croospulle was part of ESPNcricinfo’s LPL 2023 team of the tournament for his 232 runs at an average 33.14, while Daniel too had some exciting cameos opening the innings. At just 19, he also has a first-class double ton to his name.
Fernando meanwhile has the distinction of having played one of the most impactful innings in last year’s LPL, when he scored a 42-ball 63 on a surface all other batters had struggled on. This year as well he compiled an unbeaten 39-ball 56 against Dambulla Aura but wasn’t able to take his side over teh line. As for Arachchige, despite having a subdued LPL, he has impressed in recent games for the Sri Lanka A side, notably notching a pair of centuries against England Lions earlier this year.
In Bandara, Sri Lanka have one of the best fielders in the tournament, while his six ODIs for the national side have already brought about two fifties – his relative experience will hold them in good stead. Rounding out the batting will be wicketkeeper Lahiru Udara, lower-middle order batter Ahan Wickramasinghe and allrounders Lahiru Samarakoon, Nimesh Vimukthi, Ranitha Liyanarachchi, Sachitha Jayathilaka and Ravindu Fernando.
On the fast bowling front, a lot will depend on Thushara. Dubbed podi (little) Malinga due to his slingy action, Thushara has been consistently among the better performers in recent LPL seasons. He makes up for his lack of searing pace with good control and variety. Thushara will be supported by 26-year-old quick Isitha Wijesundara, and allrounders Samarakoon and Liyanarachchi.
In the spin department, Sri Lanka boasts a fair degree of variety. Legspinner Vijayakanth Viyaskanth will the lead the way, having broken into the starting XI of Jaffna Kings – and played a key role in their 2022 championship. Nimesh Vimukthi will share the burden with his slow left-arm orthodox, while Ravindu and Arachchige provide offbreak options. Jayathilaka meanwhile is capable of zippy leg breaks pushed quickly through the air.
Sri Lanka have a direct entry into the Asian Games quarter-finals and play their first game on October 4. All matches will be in the T20 format.
Lasith Croospulle, Shevon Daniel, Ashen Bandara, Sahan Arachchige (capt), Ahan Wickramasinghe, Lahiru Udara (wk), Ravindu Fernando, Ranitha Liyanarachchi, Nuwanidu Fernando, Sachitha Jayatilaka, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Nimesh Vimukthi, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nuwan Thushara, Isitha Wijesundera
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