Athapaththu, Samarawickrama star in Sri Lanka’s historic series win over South Africa

South Africa

Sri Lanka 156 for 6 (Athapaththu 73, Samarawickrama 54, de Klerk 2-25) beat South Africa 155 for 6 (Wolvaardt 56, de Klerk 44, Kumari 3-24) by four wickets

Sri Lanka, with Sugandika Kumari leading the way with the ball and Chamari Athapaththu and Harshitha Samarawickrama slamming quick half-centuries, came from behind to win a historic women’s bilateral T20I series for the first time against South Africa. The four-wicket win in the decider on Wednesday meant they took home the three-T20I series 2-1.

Chasing 156 for victory, Sri Lanka lost Vishmi Gunaratne in the second over for 1, but then had a 97-run stand between Athapaththu and Samarawickrama, which took them to 102, leaving them with just 54 to get from 7.2 overs.

Athapaththu took the lead in the run-scoring. She hit 73 in 46 balls, with seven fours and five sixes at East London’s Buffalo Park, to put Sri Lanka in the ascendance. Samarawickrama was an able ally, as she scored 54 not out in 43 balls, helping Sri Lanka get in front alongside Athapaththu and then completing the job after a bit of a rush of wickets with five balls to spare.

Earlier, after South Africa were asked to bat at the toss, Laura Wolvaardt and Nadine de Klerk did most of the scoring for them, with Anneke Bosch chipping in with a useful cameo.

Up top, Tazmin Brits was the quiet partner in a 37-run stand with Wolvaardt, scoring just 7. The trend continued, with Wolvaardt dominating small stands with Marizanne Kapp and Sune Luus, before the first significant partnership, when Wolvaardt and Bosch added 32 in just under five overs. Bosch made 27 in 21 balls with three fours and a six off Athapaththu.

Then came the Wolvaardt-de Klerk partnership, worth 54, in just under six overs, that well and truly put South Africa on top. It ended when Kumari, Sri Lanka’s most successful bowler on the night, sent Wolvaardt back for a 47-ball 56. For Wolvaardt, who came into the game on the back of her first T20I century in the series-opener, it was the 11th half-century in the format.

Kumari, who had earlier sent back Brits, added Eliz-mari Marx’s wicket to her bag to finish with 3 for 24. Inoshi Priyadharshani (1 for 18) and Kavisha Dilhari (1 for 22) did their bit with the ball too.

Sri Lankans will next play a 50 overs-a-side tour game against a South African XI on Saturday before the ODIs start on April 9.

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