England hit back with dominant display against Sri Lanka in first women’s ODI
Last weekend England were routed by Sri Lanka at Chelmsford, by eight wickets in the Twenty20 series. On Saturday the hosts extracted revenge, Sri Lanka dispatched for a mere 106 in the opening one-day international at Durham (only two runs more than England managed in 18 overs at Chelmsford), as Heather Knight’s side sealed a seven-wicket victory with 192 balls to spare.
England’s response to the embarrassing T20 series loss to Sri Lanka, which they suffered at Derby on Wednesday, was a defiant one: to persist with their youth-first policy. Before play commenced on Saturday, there were three cap presentations –to the batter Maia Bouchier, and the seam bowlers Mahika Gaur and Lauren Filer.
With the latter pair taking three wickets apiece, and Bouchier stroking the winning boundary through the covers to finish 17 not out, the coach Jon Lewis’s week certainly ended better than it began. There can have been fewer more dizzying role reversals.
In a symbolic passing of the baton moment, Katherine Sciver-Brunt was tasked with handing Gaur her cap. A 38-year-old with 335 international wickets to her name, who retired last month; and a 17-year-old with the world at her feet, who hopes she might have the chance to take half as many.
By the end of Sri Lanka’s innings, Gaur had made a decent start on that goal: three for 26 in 6.2 overs. Asked about Gaur in the post-match press conference, Chamari Athapaththu sheepishly held up three fingers – indicating the number of times Gaur has dismissed her in international cricket. Once for UAE (Gaur’s former team), in last year’s Asia Cup; the second time at Hove, nine days ago, in Gaur’s England T20 debut.
And the third here at Durham as – opening the bowling from the Lumley End – Gaur swung the ball, late, just enough to send the Sri Lanka captain’s off-stump cartwheeling out of the ground. In her next over, she repeated the feat against Anushka Sanjeewani.
Then came Filer – who Knight described as a “crowd favourite” – pelting in even on the hottest day of the year (26 degrees in Durham), and slamming the ball into the pitch. After her outing in the Ashes Test, she had sat out the remainder of the series against Australia but, with Lauren Bell recovering from illness, she had been told on Friday that she would finally get another chance.
“The pitch was a bit slow but it had a bit of bounce, so I just tried to use that to my advantage,” she said afterwards. “I suit this format better than T20.” Her wickets all came courtesy of bouncers: Hasini Perera gloved one down the leg side, before Kavisha Dilhari and Nilakshi de Silva slashed at wide balls and were both caught behind.
The crowd went wild in anticipation of a possible hat-trick, a moment Filer said her “brought me back to the Test match”, when she famously dismissed Ellyse Perry on 99.
“In my head, it was just: ‘don’t bowl a wide!’”, she added of the hat-trick delivery. It was instead blocked safely by Oshadi Ranasinghe.
By then though, Sri Lanka were 78 for six; between them Sarah Glenn and Alice Capsey did the rest. Along the way, Amy Jones held on to a record five catches (the most ever in a women’s ODI). Four of them were pretty regulation – Jones displaying her usual quiet competence with the gloves – but the fifth was a fantastic diving effort to see off Sri Lanka’s top-scorer, Harshitha Samarawickrama, for 35. There was just time for Gaur to wrap things up by clean bowling Udeshika Prabodhani.
With the bat, England were in no rush: Tammy Beaumont started with five from 13 balls, while Emma Lamb began with seven from 20. But at the back end of the powerplay England decided it was time to start the bus, and the boundaries began to flow: they reached 61 without loss in the opening 10 overs.
An excellent diving catch from Hasini Perera at slip did for Beaumont in the 11th, before Lamb was caught at mid-off trying to go aerial, while Heather Knight looked infuriated when she gloved the ball to the keeper with eight runs still needed. Bouchier, though, was delighted with the chance to finish the job.