Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning see Australia through after early scare

Sri Lanka
Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes dug Australia out of a huge hole © Getty Images

Australia 5 for 123 (Haynes 60, Lanning 41*, Prabodhani 2-17, Siriwardene 2-20) beat Sri Lanka 6 for 122 (Atapattu 50, Sanjeewani 25, Carey 2-18, Strano 2-23) by five wickets

Australia are not playing well at all. Australia are still in the T20 World Cup. These two truths were undeniable at the end of a white-knuckle encounter with Sri Lanka at the WACA Ground, which on several occasions looked like being the day in which Meg Lanning’s No. 1-ranked side were eliminated at the first available opportunity.

Sri Lanka, having also lost their opening fixture, had never beaten Australia in a T20I but got closer than most anybody expected. Putting up a sound total and defending it desperately has been a more than useful strategy so far in this tournament, and at 3 for 10, the hosts were in all sorts of trouble thanks to the swing of Udeshika Prabodhani.

Lanning and Rachael Haynes put together a partnership, however, and they were given what turned out to be much-needed assistance by both the umpires – not ruling Lanning caught behind when she was on 15 – and the Sri Lankans, who dropped both Australia’s captain and deputy when the game could easily have swung back their way. In the end Australia scrambled to victory with three balls to spare. They are still in the tournament, but they have plenty of improving to do.

Atapattu brings the class

Having never lost to Sri Lanka in 16 matches across formats, Australia had to be wary of Chamari Atapattu after her glorious 103 in an ODI in Brisbane in October. Megan Schutt broke through early, having found some of her trademark new-ball swing away from the left-hand opener Hasini Perera, but otherwise Lanning’s team could not find a way to confound Atapattu before she had given Sri Lanka a serviceable start in conditions that, in considerable breeze and on a fresh, fastish pitch, had plenty to offer the bowlers.

Critically, Atapattu gained some handy support from Nos. 3, 4 and 5 as Umesha Thimashini, Anushka Sanjeewani and Nilakshi de Silva all contributed. Their innings were at varying degrees of fluency, Thimashini most striking in her cover drives off Ellyse Perry, but they ensured that once Atapattu departed, caught at extra cover the ball after she was very nearly run out, the Sri Lankan effort was not to peter out entirely.

Full report to follow…

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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