England’s ICC Women’s World Cup campaign started with a disappointing one-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
Eshani Kaushalya scored a half century and a 62 from Chamari Atapattu saw Sri Lanka chase down a target of 239 from the final ball of a very tense contest.
The openers Atapattu and Yasoda Mendis (46) gave them a wonderful start with a century run stand. The English bowlers fought back by taking wickets in quick succession during the middle overs, however Kaushalya then saw them home in the end.
Arran Brindle and Katherine Brunt took two wickets each to give England hope, but it was Sri Lanka who crossed the line with the win.
England’s top order struggled early on, as skipper Charlotte Edwards, Danielle Wyatt and Lydia Greenway were all dismissed cheaply leaving Brindle and Heather Knight to rebuild the innings.
The calm partnership took England to 114-5, however Shashikala Siriwardene’s attack bowled well with discipline and sharp fielding. England were without a single boundary from the 18th over till the 41st.
Debutant Amy Jones and Jenny Gunn helped England get a competitive score. The pair scored a partnership of 83, both players using good footwork to play the spinners.
The batters made use of the lightning-fast outfield by scoring a massive 91 runs from the final 10 overs. Gunn fell for fifty and Jones scored 41.
Brunt in the final over hit the only six of the innings as England managed to get a competitive total on the board.
In the run chase the Sri Lanka openers didn’t look daunted by the target, Mendis and Atapattu played with drives through the off side and with both players keen to take on the sweep shot, England’s wayward bowling was highly punished.
England finally had a breakthrough as Brindle had Atapattu caught for 62 at midwicket ending the hundred run stand.
Brunt with extra pace had Mendis caught by Danielle Hazell, from that point on the three lions made huge inroads into the middle order.
Sri Lanka still fought on, led by Kaushalaya’s heavy hitting late on as she fired 56 off 41 balls and the decisive blow was when she launched Georgia Elwiss into the stand with two over left.
Despite the drama of the last over, Sri Lanka were home off the final ball and with one wicket intact.
It was a massive win for the Sri Lankan women, it was their first over the big four sides – England, Australia, New Zealand and India, and this goes down as the biggest upset in women’s World Cup history.
Charlotte Edwards side now face a must win contest in Group A against India on Sunday at the Brabourne Stadium.