England’s hopes of ODI victory against Sri Lanka thwarted by rain

By Sports Desk September 12, 2023

England’s bid to move into an unassailable lead in their ODI series against Sri Lanka was foiled by rain as another polished bowling display counted for nothing at Wantage Road.

Steady drizzle turned heavier and forced the teams off the field after Sri Lanka’s innings had slowly unravelled from a solid platform of 53 for two from nine overs to 106 for nine in the 31st.

Chamari Athapaththu’s run-a-ball 34 put England under pressure but the Sri Lanka captain’s dismissal in Charlie Dean’s first over led to a momentum shift as the tourists again struggled with the bat.

Dean and Alice Davidson-Richards – recalled at the expense of the injured Emma Lamb and rested Mahika Gaur – took two wickets apiece, as did Lauren Filer, who continues to impress in England colours.

Hasini Perera anchored proceedings after Athapaththu’s dismissal, amassing 31 not out off 58 balls, but was helpless to stop wickets tumbling at the other end, with Sri Lanka’s plight encapsulated by Achini Kulasuriya being absent-mindedly run out by Kate Cross just before the players were brought off.

Any hope of getting back on was thwarted at 5.10pm, and the abandonment means Sri Lanka, who were hammered by seven wickets at Chester-le-Street, escape but still trail 1-0 in this three-match series.

After rain held up the start by half an hour, Sri Lanka were asked to bat first under murky skies, and while they were more purposeful than their meek 106 total in the north east on Saturday – thumping 15 fours and a six – their innings at Northampton followed a similar pattern.

Athapaththu clipped the first ball to the boundary then capitalised when Cross overpitched, driving handsomely in a match-up which brought the left-hander six fours and a meaty six over midwicket.

Cross had better luck against Sri Lanka’s other opener as her first ball to Vishmi Gunaratne brought an uncertain forward prod which grazed the outside edge and was accepted by Amy Jones, who took another simple catch when Harshitha Samarawickrama was persuaded to drive at a rare fuller Filer delivery.

Sri Lanka might still have been in the ascendancy after the powerplay had Dean not struck in the last over, with her arm ball thudding into the front pad of Athapaththu, who took a review with her.

Athapaththu’s downfall saw the runs dry up, with a watchful 23-run stand in 42 balls between Perera and Hansima Karunaratne only noteworthy as television cameras detected a marriage proposal in the stands.

Karunaratne was especially marooned and having made just eight, she was persuaded to hook her 22nd ball to Sarah Glenn off Davidson-Richards, while the occasionally dangerous Kavisha Dilhari was dropped at slip off her fourth delivery before chipping her sixth tamely back to Dean.

It was the first of four ducks for Sri Lanka – only Athapaththu, Perera and Oshadi Ranasinghe reached double figures, the latter showing intent to Glenn only to miss a sweep off the leg-spinner on 12, with England grateful for the on-field lbw verdict as a review showed the ball brushing leg stump.

Wicketkeeper Anushka Sanjeewani chopped on after a flat-footed push at Davidson-Richards while Filer, who caused problems with her extra pace and bounce, had her fifth wicket in just her second ODI as she ended a 15-ball scoreless stay from Udeshika Prabodhani as she edged through to Jones.

As a trickle turned heavier, the final act proved to be Cross’ smart run out of Kulasuriya, who was short of her crease after Perera had defended to cover. No run was attempted but Kulasuriya dawdled back to the non-striker’s end and her bat had not been grounded when Cross threw down the stumps.

A two-hour delay ensued but as puddles developed on the outfield, the match was abandoned with just 30.5 overs possible.

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