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Sri Lanka secured their inaugural series victory against England in any cricket format by clinching their second consecutive surprising win.
England struggled again just four days after their first-ever T20I loss to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s bowlers dismissed England within 20 overs for the second consecutive match, leading to a 2-1 series triumph in Derby.
Limited to 104 runs within 18 overs at Chelmsford on Saturday, England’s downfall was due to bowling performances by Sri Lanka’s offspinner Kavisha Dilhari, seamer Udeshika Prabodhani and their captain Chamari Athapaththu. Some avoidable dismissals led England to be bowled out for 116 in 19 overs.
Athapaththu showcased her trademark power-hitting skills, dismantling the run chase. Her performance guided her team to a seven-wicket victory with 18 balls to spare.
This win marked England’s first T20I series defeat to a team other than Australia since 2010.
England’s unfortunate start
England got a rough start as Danni Wyatt’s first ball went directly to Hasini Perera at cover, thanks to Inoshi Priyadharshani’s delivery.
Their troubles escalated when their fellow opener, Maia Bouchier, attempted a second run while flicking Prabodhani to square leg. She changed her mind about a quarter down the pitch and turned around with her back facing Alice Capsey.
At that point, Capsey was sprinting for a second run. She continued her run as Prabhodhani relayed the throw from the outfield to wicketkeeper Anushka Sanjeewani.
Sanjeewani quickly removed the bails while both batters were stuck at one end. Capsey left the field with her team’s score at 11 for 2.
Consecutive boundaries by Bouchier off Athapaththu followed afterward. One being a drive wide of mid-off and the other a swing through square leg. It allowed England to progress to 41 for 2.
However, when Bouchier executed a cut shot, the ball she hit was located by Dilhari, positioned within the boundary rope at the long-on area. It left England at 41 for 3 after the Powerplay.
Bouchier’s 23 runs from 18 deliveries was England’s top individual score. When Dilhari trapped Heather Knight leg-before-wicket, the home team had reached a score of 70 for 4 at the halfway mark of their innings.
Captain on Fire
Athapaththu was the star of Sri Lanka’s win against England in the second match. She lured Amy Jones into a drive but outfoxed her with a flight. It allowed Sanjeewani to execute a stumping.
This situation left two relatively inexperienced batters, Freya Kemp and Dani Gibson, at the crease with only 72 runs and five wickets down.
The wicket tally increased to six when Kemp sent the ball soaring down the ground. However, Nilakshi de Silva stationed at long-on, completed the catch after Dilhari set her up with three consecutive dot balls.
Athapaththu took two wickets in a row, dismissing Kate Cross via stumping and Mahika Gaur, trapped in front of the middle stump.
In the eighth inning, Athapaththu launched the ball over backward square leg for a six. In the following over, she repeated the feat against Gaur.
The captain hit the ball to the same area for another six. With two fours on the off-side in three balls off Dean, her team reached the end of the Powerplay at 58 runs without losing wickets.
The catch that ended Athapaththu’s innings of 44 runs off 28 balls came courtesy of Dean. She sprinted to her right from deep midwicket and caught the ball off Capsey’s delivery.
England’s slim chances were dented when Vishmi Gunaratne overturned Cross’s lbw appeal. Despite Glenn’s attempt to dismiss Gunaratne, Sri Lanka emerged as the victor.
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