Weerakkody guides Sri Lanka to win

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The last time Sri Lanka Women had won a One-Day International without Shashikala Siriwardene in its line-up was on January 30, 2002. 

She was more than a year away from making her debut back then.

Not a part of the current squad because of an injury, Siriwardene, the face of women’s cricket in the country, watched with pride from the member’s stand of the Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground in Colombo on Wednesday (February 8) as Sri Lanka beat Ireland Women by 146 runs in a Group A game of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers 2017.

Sri Lanka, who lost its first game against India Women by 114 runs, would now carry two points into the Super Six stage if it and Ireland qualifies for it.

Opting to bat first, Sri Lanka rallied around half-centuries from Prasadani Weerakkody (61) and Dilani Manodara (53 not out) to make 239 for 8 – its first 200-plus score in more than two years.

After that, Inoshi Priyadharshani Fernando, the offspinner, took three wickets to reduce Ireland to 27 for 4 in 13.3 overs. Playing her seventh ODI, Fernando finished with career-best figures of 3 for 21 as Ireland was bowled out for 93 in 36.1 overs.

Ireland started the game on a positive note, reducing Sri Lanka to 25 for 2 in 8.2 overs. Nipuni Hansika and Weerakkody resurrected the innings with a partnership of 72 runs, which included ten fours.

Hansika had made 30 when she became Robyn Lewis’s first wicket on debut. Weerakkody was the next to fall to give Gaby Lewis, the elder sister, her first wicket of the match.

Ireland kept Sri Lanka under check, but was never able to tie it down completely. It meant that the home team was never in danger of posting a big total. The impetus came from the unbroken ninth-wicket pair of Udeshika Prabodhani (21 not out off 11 balls) and Fernando (11 not out off 10 balls). They added 21 runs in 2.4 overs to take Sri Lanka to its eighth-highest total.

Isobel Joyce, who bowled left-arm seam after having bowled spin for a major part of last year, was Ireland’s most successful bowler, returning figures of 4 for 39.

Her joy was short lived though, as Cecelia Joyce – her sister – got involved in a mix up to be Ireland’s first wicket to fall during the chase. After that, Fernando took over. Mary Waldron was trapped in front of the wicket, Hansika took a sharp catch at first slip to send Isobel back and Kim Garth too was lbw.

Clare Shillington entertained the Ireland fans with six fours during her unbeaten 37-ball 36, but wickets kept falling regularly at the other end as Ireland, after beating Zimbabwe Women in the opening game by 119 runs, tasted its first defeat of the tournament.

Prabodhani picked up the ninth wicket in Ireland’s innings to bring an end to the proceedings. Meg Kendal did not come out to bat because of a hamstring injury. She is due to undergo a scan tomorrow.

Sri Lanka takes on Zimbabwe at the same venue on February 11, while Ireland plays India a day before that at the P Sara Oval.

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