ISLAMABAD: Pakistan flirted with their first victory in 14 World Cup matches several times over the course of the action in Leicester on Saturday. They had Sri Lanka at 98 for 5 in the 27th over but somehow let them scramble to 221. Then, in the chase, they were 134 for 4 with a well-set Nain Abidi finding the boundaries at will. But she would be run-out - the result of a mix up with her captain Sana Mir - as self-inflicted wounds eventually led to a defeat most agonising. They needed a 16 runs in 21 balls when their last wicket fell. Watching the chaos unfold from behind the wicket was Dilani Manodara. Thirty-four years old, and so perhaps playing her last World Cup game, she couldn’t have hoped for more as she first resurrected Sri Lanka’s innings with a career best 84 off 111 balls and then savoured a hard-fought victory - the only one her team will take home.
Without a victory between them all competition, both teams went into the game unable to progress to the semi-finals but there was still pride at stake and it proved to be a thriller. Manodara recorded her second ODI half-century of the competition, top-scoring for her team, as Sri Lanka posted 221 for seven from their 50 overs. Despite Abidi’s entertaining 57, Pakistan faltered in the middle overs and came up short as Sri Lanka’s Chandima Gunaratne finished with four for 41.
Sri Lanka captain Inoka Ranaweera said: “This is the first victory for us at the competition, we are very happy to beat Pakistan today. we made a plan yesterday, we stuck to it and we won the match because of that. We want to thank the ICC and everyone who has made our stay in England so enjoyable.” Pakistan captain Mir said: “Our batters have been under pressure throughout the tournament but they put up a fight today. Mostly we are not able to finish matches when we get on top as we give away wickets at crucial times and that happened again today. We are very disappointed. But in life, these things happen but you have to bounce back. We will learn from their tournament and the younger players will come back stronger.”
Scores in brief:
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 15 runs at Grace Road, Leicester
Sri Lanka 221-7 in 50 overs (Dilani Manodara 84, Eshani Lokusooriya 28, Chamari Athapaththu 27; Diana Baig 3-41)
Pakistan 206 all out in 46.4 overs (Syeda Nain Fatima Abidi 57, Amavia Iqbal Khokhar 38 not out; Chandima Gunaratne 4-41, Ama Kanchana 2-31)
Player of the match - Chandima Gunaratne (Sri Lanka)
Published in Daily Times, July 16th , 2017.