A belligerent 86 off 45 balls from Chamari Athapaththu laid the foundations for a comfortable win for Sri Lanka over Scotland on day one of the Commonwealth Games Qualifier in Malaysia.
On the eve of the tournament, Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce said that the Scots would seek to play fearless cricket, unburdened by expectation. ‘There’s no expectation on us to come out on top, so we can just go out there and play cricket in the way that we want to, and express ourselves with that confidence behind us.’
But they were quickly on the defensive after losing the toss against their Full Member opponents. Despite claiming the wicket of Vishmi Rajapakse early on, Scotland were unable to contain Athapaththu.
Beginning with an audacious one-handed boundary off Rachel Slater in the second over, the south paw unfurled a series of silky cover drives and nonchalant lofted flicks off the Scottish openers, racing to 29 in 13 balls at the end of the power play.
Abtaha Maqsood and Kathryn Fraser could do little to stem the flow of runs from Athapaththu’s bat, the Sri Lankan captain using her feet and the slog sweep to perfection against the spinners.
Scotland missed their one opportunity to snare Athapathu early, Ellen Watson dropping a straightforward catch on the boundary off Hannah Rainey’s sole over.
Once Athapaththu fell in the fourteen over, the Sri Lankans were in a commanding position at 124/1 on a slow, low pitch.
A double-wicket over from Maqsood threatened to derail Sri Lanka’s momentum, but Nilakshi Silva (23* off 16 balls) and Ama Kanchana (11* off 6 balls) combined to see the South Asians through to a daunting total of 182/4.
Scotland scored a fluent fifty runs in the power play, but lost their best batters in the process. Sarah Bryce was caught trying to loft Udeshika Prabodhani over cover in the third over, her sister Kathryn played the accurate Inoka Ranaweera on to her stumps in the sixth, going for an ambitious slog sweep against the spin.
Ellen Watson atoned for her earlier drop catch with a fluent 30 not out, but with the ball starting to keep low, and Scotland in dire need of a partnership, she was forced to retire hurt with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
The returning Kanchana had Atiken-Drummond caught in front, and with the run rate now approaching eleven, the dye was cast in Sri Lanka’s favour. Scotland then lost their last five wickets for 13 runs, folding meekly for 73 all out.
In the tournament opener, Bangladesh recorded a comfortable eight-wicket win over Malaysia. Electing to field first, Bangladesh had the hosts in dire straights at 6/2 in five overs.
Captain Winifred Duraisingam (12 off 31 balls) and the talented Mas Elysa (11 off 11) briefly injected some fluency into the Malaysian innings with an almost run-a-ball 15-run partnership. But when they fell the quick succession, the runs dried up and the wickets fell regularly, the Malaysians eventually limping to 49/9 in their 20 overs.
Openers Shamima Sultan (28 off 19 balls) and Murshida Khatun (14 off 16 balls) knocked off the bulk of the target with a 38-run partnership in five overs, a couple of quick wickets taking the sheen off an otherwise perfect outing for the favourites.
Bangladesh take on Kenya tomorrow morning. The Scots will then look to bounce back from today’s defeat when they take on Malaysia in the afternoon game.
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