Australia Women 4 for 217 (Mooney 113, Gardner 49) beat Sri Lanka Women 7 for 176 (Atapattu 113, Wareham 2-19) by 41 runs
Australia Women began their international season with an expected victory, as Beth Mooney scored her second T20I hundred, but the story of the day belonged to the visiting captain Chamari Atapattu, who produced a brilliant 60-ball century to rekindle her liking of Australian bowling, as runs flowed at North Sydney Oval.
Mooney’s 113 off 61 balls was the cornerstone of Australia’s 4 for 217 – their second-highest T20I total behind the 3 for 226 against England Women a few months ago during the Ashes. Mooney added 72 for the first wicket with Alyssa Healy (43) and 115 off 60 balls for the third wicket with Ash Gardner (49) on a ground with enticingly short boundaries, which Gardner cleared four times.
Sri Lanka Women did not threaten the target but Atapattu, who scored 178 when these two teams last met – at the 2017 World Cup – played a breathtaking innings. This was only the second time she has passed fifty in her T20I career, as she thrashed Australia’s attack to all parts, in turn carrying Sri Lanka to comfortably their highest T20I total.
One of her six sixes laid claim to be the shot of the day, when it landed on the roof of the stand over long-on and she reached her century – Sri Lanka’s first in T20Is – with a powerful shot down the ground off Delissa Kimmince, celebrating with an emotional leap and gestures towards her team’s dugout. Atapattu knows she has to lead from the front and this was a mighty statement.
Beth Mooney celebrates her century Getty Images
Batters have long wanted to roll up the North Sydney Oval pitch and take it with them. Today was no different. Mooney’s century, brought up with a crunching cover drive off her 54th delivery, made her just the fourth player to score two T20I centuries in the women’s game alongside her captain Meg Lanning, Danielle Wyatt and Deandra Dottin.
The only surprise of Australia’s innings was a rare low score for Lanning, who was given lbw for 1 when sweeping at Oshadi Ranasinghe during the one brief period when Sri Lanka had a modicum of control.
After Lanning had handed coin-toss duties to Healy following her recent poor record (which paid dividends when Australia won the toss), the tone was set with the first over of the innings which went for 11 runs with Mooney collecting a brace of early boundaries. Healy was soon off and running as well, playing particularly strongly down the ground, with Australia ending the Powerplay on 0 for 64.
Against the run of play, Healy departed when she skied another attempt to go down the ground and Ranasinghe steadied herself under a good catch. Between overs seven and ten Sri Lanka managed to keep a lid on things, conceding 30 runs in the four overs, but it was a brief period of consolidation by Australia. During this time Udeshika Prabodhani pulled out of her run-up three times when she saw Mooney attempting to lap the ball, and also threatened to run out the non-striker backing up.
Gardner slotted away her first six in the 11th over and Mooney went to her half-century off 33 balls before taking three fours in a row off Atapattu. She went one better than that in the 15th over, with four consecutive boundaries off Sugandika Kumari, and a misfield then allowed her to get to three figures. Mooney’s career-best of 117 was in sight when she fell at the start of the penultimate over, and the next over saw Gardner fall one short of a half-century when she picked out long-on.
How Chamari Atapattu raced to her maiden T20I hundred ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Mooney continued to have a big say in proceedings when her direct hit ran out Yasoda Mendis in the third over. Tayla Vlaeminck, who generated impressive pace, then struck in her first over when Anushka Sanjeewani gloved behind.
Atapattu played magnificently, however, dominating a third-wicket stand of 76 with Hansima Karunaratne, and she celebrated her fifty by depositing Georgia Wareham over long-on for six. In the space of 11 deliveries, Atapattu collected four sixes with some of the cleanest striking of the day. She was eventually yorked by Megan Schutt. Atapattu walked off the field with pats on the back from the Australians, nothing less then she deserved.
While Australia were never in danger of losing, the match certainly gave them something to ponder for the series ahead. For Sri Lanka, who had not played for six months and had one match to prepare for this series, their captain has shown them what is possible against the best team in the world. It was a stirring spectacle.