Bangladesh lose to Sri Lanka in tournament opener

Sri Lanka's Nilakshi De Silva and Sri Lanka's Harshitha Samarawickrama shake hands with Bangladesh's Jahanara Alam and Salma Khatun after Sri Lanka won the Group A ICC T20 women's World Cup match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on 12 February, 2023AFP

Bangladesh women’s team suffered a seven-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in their opening match of the ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday.

The other South Asian contenders India and Pakistan also clashed in a group-stage match on the same day, where the Indians came out on top by the same margin.

Sri Lankan left-handed opening batter Harshitha Samarawickrama made 69 not out and shared an unbeaten 105-run partnership with Nilakshi de Silva (41 not out), which enabled Sri Lanka to survive an early scare in pursuit of a modest Bangladesh total of 126 for eight.

Sri Lanka's Harshitha Samarawickrama celebrates after Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh

Captain Chamari Athapaththu, long the batting mainstay of the Sri Lankan team and the star of their victory over hosts South Africa in the tournament opener on the same pitch on Friday, was out for 15.

She fell to 18-year-old medium-pace bowler Marufa Akter, who then took two more wickets without conceding a run to reduce Sri Lanka to 25 for three in the sixth over.

Bangladesh's Marufa Akter celebrates after bowling Sri Lanka's Anushka Sanjeewani

“I’m very happy about our performance,” said Athapaththu. “We don’t depend on one batter. We have been working on our batting the last couple of months.”

Athapaththu said new coach Rumesh Ratnayake had encouraged the Sri Lanka players to play their natural game.

But she said Sri Lanka would need to bowl better in the powerplay when they meet reigning champions and tournament favourites Australia in their next match in Gqeberha on Thursday.

Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana said her team had fallen short by “15 or 20 runs” when they followed a bright start by losing five wickets for 24 runs in the closing stages of their innings.

Brilliant Rodrigues wins it for India

What had been a tense run chase for India turned into a comfortable win with an over to spare as Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh put on an unbeaten 58 off 33 balls after India were set 150 to win.

Rodrigues batted with calm skill to make 53 not out off 38 balls while Ghosh, 19, hit powerfully to score 31 not out off 20 balls.

India's Jemimah Rodrigues celebrates after scoring a half-century during the Group B ICC T20 women's World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on 12 February, 2023

Favourites India needed almost 10 runs an over when Ghosh joined Rodrigues in the 14th over but the pair were seldom troubled.

“We knew we had to bat sensibly and bat until the end. If we did that the loose balls would come,” said Rodrigues, who said the presence of her father and childhood coach Ivan had inspired her to perform well.

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof had made a stylish 68 not out and shared a free-scoring unbeaten partnership of 81 off 47 balls with 18-year-old Ayesha Naseem, who struck an unbeaten 43 off 25 balls.

It enabled Pakistan to post a competitive 149 for four after deciding to bat on a dry pitch.

“We made some mistakes as a bowling unit,” said Maroof.

Rodrigues said India were a young team with “fight and grit” who had been building steadily since last year and had belief in each other.

“Playing with the same team again and again, everyone’s very honest and everyone puts in a lot of hard work.”