By defeating a self-destructing Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the Women’s Asia Cup final on Saturday in Sylhet, India continued to dominate the competition, winning their seventh title in eight attempts.
On a slow, turning pitch, Sri Lanka decided to bat, but imploded in the tournament final their first in 14 years. They only managed to score 65 for 9, which India defeated in 8.3 overs. Smriti Mandhana hit a magnificent 51 off 25 balls, remaining unbeaten.
Following a mix-up with Anushka Sanjeewani, who was run out six balls later, Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu was run out in the third over, starting a procession.
Hasini Perera was sent back by Renuka on the first ball she faced. Renuka has been in excellent form since the August Commonwealth Games. After checking her shot, the left-handed batswoman was caught at cover, leaving Sri Lanka at nine for four.
The Sri Lankans desperately needed a partnership, but Kavisha Dilhari’s dismissal when attempting to play an incoming Renuka delivery across the line left them at 16 for 5.
Nilakshi de Silva attempted to cut a ball close to her body, but instead played on to her stumps, giving Rajeshwari Gayakwad her first wicket. Being bowled out for a sub-50 total at 32 for eight was very likely, but Ranaweera’s unbeaten 18 off 22 balls spared them that humiliation.
Although the Indians bowled with composure, poor shot choice was more of a factor in Sri Lanka’s precipitous decline. It appeared Sri Lanka succumbed to the pressure of the moment following a memorable victory over Pakistan in the semifinals.
Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues were cheaply lost by India during the run chase. However, both batters performed admirably in the competition, with Jemimah making a successful comeback from injury and Shafali returning to form.
Along with captain Harmanpreet Kaur, the graceful Mandhana played some exquisite strokes to complete the formality (11 not out off 14). Smriti put in six boundaries and three sixes. She appropriately completed the victory by hitting a maximum off Oshadi Ranasinghe.
India’s preparations for the T20 World Cup the following year are given a boost by the victory. During the competition, they were able to test out players for various roles, but that also contributed to their one defeat, to Pakistan in the league stage.
After their victory, which was witnessed by a sizable crowd, the Indians took a lap of the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium and, in a nice gesture, got together with the entire groundstaff.