Meg Lanning made 152 not out (135 balls) – her highest score – to steer Australia’s chase. © Getty Images

Meg Lanning made 152 not out (135 balls) – her highest score – to steer Australia’s chase. © Getty Images

Chamari Athapaththu’s unbeaten 143-ball 178 gave Sri Lanka a rare chance to beat Australia at the County Ground in Bristol on Thursday (June 29). But lack of support from other batters, sloppy fielding and ordinary fielding meant that the defending champions had an easy eight-wicket win for their second consecutive win in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.

Highest successful chase in a World Cup game:

Team Score Target Opposition Venue Start Date
Australia 262/2 258 SL Bristol June 29, 2017
Sri Lanka 244/9 238 Eng Mumbai (BS) February 1, 2013
West Indies 234/8 231 SA Cuttack February 8, 2013
Australia 228/3 228 NZ Cuttack February 5, 2013

After Sri Lanka were restricted to 257 for 9, Meg Lanning made 152 not out (135 balls) – her highest score – to steer Australia’s chase. She had two substantial partnerships with Nicole Bolton and Ellyse Perry to take Australia to 262 for 2 in 43.5 overs, the highest successful chase in Women’s World Cup history. Perry helped herself to a brisk 39 during an unbroken partnership of 124 in 18.2 overs with her skipper.

Athapaththu caught Beth Mooney at cover in the second over of Australia’s chase, and suddenly the game came alive. Off the very next ball, Bolton was dropped and Sri Lanka had little luck left in their kitty after that.

Highest ODI score in losing cause: 

Batter Score Opposition Venue Match Date
Chamari Athapaththu (SL) 178* Aus Bristol June 29, 2017
Harmanpreet Kaur (Ind) 107* Eng Mumbai (BS) February 3, 2013
Amy Satterthwaite (NZ) 103 Eng Mumbai (BS) February 13, 2013
Debbie Hockley (NZ) 100 Aus Melbourne February 6, 2000

Australia arrived in England aware that this was the most open World Cup, and had prepared for all eventualities. Having beaten Windies easily, Sri Lanka offered them their first real challenge and they schooled them.

Bolton, who followed her unbeaten 107 against Windies with 60, and Lanning, who is soon establishing herself as the superwoman of the game, brought all their class to the fore. Apart from a few inside edges, at no point did they look out of control. It helped that the fielders were slow in the infield, allowing easy singles every time there was an opportunity.

With the bowling not really up to the mark, the onus was on the fielders to create the dot-ball pressure. But they never really managed to create that, and boundaries at regular intervals only made things easier for Australia during the second-wicket partnership of 133 runs in 23.3 overs.

 

Chamari Athapaththu’s unbeaten 143-ball 178 in the first innings gave Sri Lanka a chance in the game. © Getty Images

Chamari Athapaththu’s unbeaten 143-ball 178 in the first innings gave Sri Lanka a chance in the game. © Getty Images

Nipuni Hansika caught Bolton at backward point in the 26th over, and it seemed to be the opening that Sri Lanka were after. Lanning, though, was set, and she got another wonderful alley in Perry. The duo accelerated the scoring with regular strike-rotation, even as Lanning flicked Sripali Weerakkody in the 34th over to bring up her 11th century.

Highest % of runs in a completed innings:
69.26% Chamari Athapaththu (178* out of 257)
61.94% Lynne Thomas (70*/113)
60.29% Annemarie Tanke (41/68)

Already the first woman with ten centuries, Lanning expanded the gap between her and the rest. Considering she is still only 25 years old, there is no limit to how many more centuries she could end up scoring over the next few years.

Highest score in  ODI while batting second:

Team Score Opposition Venue Start Date
Meg Lanning (Aus) 152* SL Bristol June 29, 2017
Meg Lanning (Aus) 135* WI Bowral November 16, 2014
Javeria Khan (Pak) 133* SL Sharjah January 13, 2015

Consistency is the biggest lesson Sri Lanka would have learnt from Lanning. Put into bat in overcast conditions, Sri Lanka lost Hansika in the first over. After that, the stage was all Athapaththu’s. She was brutal in attack, like Sanath Jayasuriya – her idol. She, though, would have loved a bit more support from the rest of the batters. Strangely, none of the Sri Lankan top-order batters were able to adapt the way Athapaththu did. It did not take long for it to look as if Athapaththu and her teammates were playing two different matches.

The biggest difference between top two scores in an innings:
165 Belinda Clark (229*)
154 Chamari Athapaththu (178*)
123 Charlotte Edwards (173*)

While she attacked Perry, who finished with figures of 8-0-52-2, and took a particular liking to the spinners who would have loved extra protection between midwicket and long-on, the rest did not change the strike over enough to give her adequate strike. Nowhere was this better obvious than in the final over, when she took a single off the first ball, and then saw the tail-enders eat up the remaining five balls, denying her a chance to go for her double-century.

On a day when two high-class innings were played and 54 fours and seven sixes were hit, it was only fitting that the team that was better in other departments prevailed. Lanning hit a straight six to bring up her 150 and end the game, with the floodlights having taken full effect and the public announcement system playing out some jazzy numbers.

With inputs from Hemant Brar