Aussies off to strong start in Sri Lanka series
Australia's world champion Twenty20 side continued their winning momentum from successful tours of England and the West Indies but they didn't have everything their own way in a run-laden victory over Sri Lanka to open their domestic summer.
The Australians posted a virtually unassailable 4-217 on the back of Beth Mooney's impressive century, but Chamari Athapaththu was even more impressive, as Sri Lanka posted a host of national records despite their 41-run defeat in the first of three T20s.
The Aussies were hot favourites to open a busy summer schedule on Sunday and duly delivered with the bat, posting their highestdomestic T20 tally on North Sydney Oval's shortened boundaries.
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But Sri Lanka's superstar batter Athapaththu launched an extraordinary counter- attack, playing shots to all parts of theground for a hugely entertaining 113 off 61 balls, including six sixes, as the visitors ended on a highly competitive 7-176.
While the victory margin was comfortable, it might have been different had Sri Lanka batted first. The Aussies admit theywill have to think about their game plan against the Sri Lankan dynamo during the series.
It seemed Australia's bowlers had no answers until Megan Schutt slipped a yorker past Athapaththu.
"We will have to have a sit down and think about our plans against her," admitted Mooney when asked about how Australia could counter Athapaththu. "She is a clean striker of the ball and can take a game away from the opposition as she has done in the past.
"In terms of what we are trying to do - be the best team in the world - is making sure we win matches like that instead of losing them. "We got the wicket and pegged them back pretty nicely and we haven't always been able to do that in the past." Mooney looked in impressive touch in compiling her second T20 century with her confident 113 coming off just 61 balls and including a whopping 20 boundaries. Ashleigh Gardner also featured strongly, clearing the fence on four occasions in her 27-ball 49 and sharing a 115-run third-wicket stand with Mooney.
Alyssa Healy thumped 43 off 21 balls in trademark whirlwind fashion, while the only surprise was a rare failure for Australian skipper Meg Lanning who was dismissed for one.
Athapaththu's knock was easily her nation's best individual score in T20 cricket and first century.
"I hit a century against the world's best team which feels great, but that is history now and I will now focus on the next match," Athapaththu said. "I started slowly but I gained confidence and I'm always looking to try and play confident cricket."
Australia beat Sri Lanka by 41 runs in the Twenty20 clash at North Sydney Oval on Sunday
Scores: Australia 4-217 (B Mooney 113, A Gardner 49); Sri Lanka 7-176 (C Athapaththu 113, H Karunaratne 16).