Meg Lanning who scored her 11th century in ODI on this day three years ago turned out to be the career best of her that guided Australia to their 2nd victory in the 2017 ICC World Cup. Chasing a total of 258, Australia lost Beth Mooney in the 2nd over when she was bowled by Sripali Weerakkody. Lanning took three balls to sent her first boundary, bisecting the fielders at point and third man. Lanning who loves to find the gaps in the field mixed her allegiance with power.
Unable to stop her run flow, skipper Inoka Ranaweera brought Shashikala Siriwaredena and herself into the attack and both of them were treated with utmost brutality. Lanning sent Siriwardena twice in an over to the cover fence. If she used her feet to reach the flighted deliveries, she proved her strength in the back foot against Ranaweera. With every passing ball, she became better and better though cover and point region as Lankan spinners were punished to keep the ball short and wide.
She completed her half-century in 51 balls, sweeping a ball of Ranaweera to fine leg. Sri Lankan bowlers failed to pick up a wicket as Lanning and Nicole Bolton went on to add 133 runs in 135 balls. Australia was still required 120 runs in 147 balls. A couple of wickets could have turned the game in favour of the Islanders. But, Meg Lanning changed the equation of er won. She didn’t show any sign of fatigue after staying more than 75 over on the field.
She cut the 4th ball of the 34th over though point and claimed her 11th hundred by flicking the next ball towards fine leg. She hit Udeshika Probodhani three back to back boundaries to decrease the margin. She completed her 150 with a six over long-on to seal the victory by 8 wickets. Her innings of unbeaten 152 came off 135 balls with 19 fours and a six.
Earlier, the world witnessed another gem of a knock by a left stylish left-hander. It took three balls of the match for Chamari Athapaththu to appear onto the stage. She started with a glorious straight drive to Elyse Perry to show her class. In the next over she hit three boundaries to one of the greats of modern-day cricket. If her first four came off a top edge her 2nd came through extra cover and the third one silted the fielders at the cover and the point. She spared no Aussie bowlers and treated every bad ball with utter disdain.
She completed her half-century with a cheeky single to Kirsten Beams and prepared for more. She was predominately strong on her leg side and made life harder for Australian bowlers if they bowled full to her. While the wickets continued to fell on the other side she stood on firmly and completed her 3rd century in 100 balls. Fielder on long-on and deep mid-wicket were kept on toes by her and she never hesitated to hit the balls in the air. Sri Lanka was 176/6 after 40th over and Atapaattu decided to increase the run rate. Her blade started to blazing fours and sixes.
Athapaththu ended her innings on unbeaten 178 in 143 balls with 22 fours and 6 gigantic sixes. During the course of her 143-ball vigil, she effortlessly showed different elements of her game – timing, ability to rotate strike and muscle in the end overs. Atapattu’s innings was the 68% of her team’s total. At the same time, Sri Lanka scored their highest total against Australia and Atapattu’s 178* was highest by an Individual against Australia in ODI.
The importance of her innings though came in the losing cause where the 2nd highest scorer of her team was Shashikala Sirwardena who scored 24 in 36 balls. 8 out of 11 players in the side failed to reach the double-figure mark and 5 even failed to face the balls more than 9. Chamari Athapaththu was declared Player of The Match for her sheer brilliance.
Sri Lanka 257/9 (Chamari Athapaththu 178*, Nicole Bolton 2/18) lost to Australia 262/2 (Meg Lanning 152*, Sripali Weerakkody 1/39) by 8 wickets.