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Saturday, 30 March 2024 17:54

Proteas women falter as Gunaratne guides Sri Lanka to series-levelling win.

By Ross Roche.

Kavisha Dilhari and Vishmi Gunaratne batted Sri Lanka women to a comfortable seven wicket win over the Proteas in the in the second T20I at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on Saturday afternoon.

Set a below par 138 to win Dilhari changed the game with her superb unbeaten 45 off 28 balls, featuring six boundaries, while opener Gunaratne initially played the anchor role before unleashing at the end to carry her bat for an unbeaten 65 off 57 (9x4, 1x6).

After being in a spot of bother on 62/3 in the 12th over, Dilhari and Gunaratne shared in a match winning unbeaten 76-run fourth wicket partnership off just 45 balls to get their side home with seven balls to spare.

“We probably didn’t have enough runs on the board. They bowled quite well and we struggled, especially towards the back end. Credit to some of our batters who started off brilliantly, but we lost it towards the middle and the end,” said Proteas stand-in captain Nadine de Klerk.

“They batted brilliantly. Their last partnership at the end really took the game away from us. We couldn’t quite execute our plans, so hopefully we can bounce back in the next game.”

The Sri Lankan chase got off to a wobbly start as Tumi Sekhukhune got the breakthrough at the end of the fifth over, having Chamari Athapaththu (6) caught behind by keeper Karabo Meso at the end of the fifth over with them on 25/1.

Gunaratne kept the scoreboard ticking, but not at a very quick rate and when Chloe Tryon bowled Harshita Samarawickrama (12) towards the end of the 10th over, it left Sri Lanka on 56/2 at the halfway mark.

Hasini Perera (1) followed soon after, skying De Klerk to Sekhukhune to leave them in trouble early in the 12th over, but this brought Dilhari in and she changed the game for Sri Lanka with a superb player-of-the-match winning knock.

In the first innings the Proteas women fell apart spectacularly after a sparkling half century from Anneke Bosch as they stumbled to 137/8 in their 20 overs.

Bosch, who replaced Laura Wolvaardt in the side after she was ruled out of the game due to illness, continued her captains fantastic work after she scored a century in the first T20I, by hitting 50 off 32 balls (4x4, 2x6) at the top of the order.

She was backed up well by allrounder Marizanne Kapp, 44 off 36 (5x4, 2x6), but a collapse of six wickets for 34 runs saw Sri Lanka fight back superbly to limit the hosts.

At the start of play the Proteas won the toss and chose to bat, which looked to be the correct call despite the early wicket of Tazmin Brits (7) bowled by Achini Kulasuriya, which left them on 26/1 at the start of the fourth over.

Bosch and Kapp then set about a strong 58-run partnership that looked to be setting the Proteas up for another big total.

Kapp initially struggled, taking 12 balls to score her first four runs, but a six off Inoka Ranaweera in the eighth over seemed to unleash the shackles.

In the 10th over Bosch brought up her fifty with a single at the start before Kapp went big, hitting Dilhari for two boundaries and a six over long on, but the last ball of the over skidded on and pinned Bosch in front to end her stay with the score 84/2.

The second half of the innings completely belonged to Sri Lanka as the Proteas could only add 51 runs for the loss of six wickets, thanks to some tight bowling and poor running which cost them dearly.

Sune Luus (3) and Annerie Dercksen (3) were both run out going for second runs, Kapp was caught off the bowling of Inoshi Fernando, Tryon (2) was bowled by Kulasuriya and Meso was bowled for a second ball duck by Athapaththu as they crashed to 118/7.

De Klerk scored a run-a-ball unbeaten 16 in the closing overs to try get her side to a defendable total but it wasn’t enough in the end.

After the Proteas won the opening T20I by 79-runs in Benoni, the sides now head to East London level pegging for the series deciding T20I at Buffalo Park on Wednesday.

South Africa: Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk (capt), Annerie Dercksen, Karabo Meso (wk), Nonkululeko Mlaba, Masabata Klaas, Tumi Sekhukhune

Sri Lanka: Chamari Athapaththu (capt), Harshitha Samarawickrama, Vishmi Gunaratne, Hasini Perera, Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Inoka Ranaweera, Inoshi Fernando, Udeshika Prabodani, Achini Kulasuriya.