Australia and India tuned up for Friday’s blockbuster ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 opener with hard-fought warm-up victories over South Africa and West Indies respectively.
Dane van Niekerk peeled off another half-century and Australia faltered in their chase, but a composed knocks from skipper Meg Lanning and vice-captain Rachael Haynes saw the tournament hosts home.
India’s star-studded top four failed to fire against the West Indies but Shikha Pandey’s late show hauled them up to 107 and they defended it superbly, Poonam Yadav starring with the ball to earn a two-run win.
But by far the biggest shock of the day was Sri Lanka’s10-wicket victory over England as Shashikala Siriwardana snaffled four wickets and Chamari Atapattu starred with bat and ball to earn an unlikely triumph.
Lanning steers Australia past South Africa
After struggling with the bat in their first warm-up against Sri Lanka, the Proteas top order got off to an impressive start against the hosts in Adelaide.
Lizelle Lee (29) and Dane van Niekerk (62) scorched to a 79-run partnership inside 11 overs before the former was caught by Georgia Wareham on the square-leg boundary off Nicola Carey.
Captain Van Niekerk continued her red-hot form by reaching her half-century in the 12th over from 40 balls and held the fort after Marizanne Kapp (22) was run out by Jess Jonassen and Chloe Tryon (11) trapped in front by Delissa Kimmince.
South Africa kept losing wickets as Mignon du Preez was dismissed by Megan Schutt before van Niekerk finally perished when she was bowled by Kimmince for 62 (seven fours, three sixes) with three overs remaining.
Australia’s top-order fragility reared its head again as Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner and Ellyse Perry were all dismissed before the sixth over in the chase of 148.
Nonkululeko Mlaba took the first scalp while seamer Kapp took three of her own and two in her first over.
But the hosts didn’t panic as captain Meg Lanning (47) and Rachael Haynes (39) stabilised the innings with an 83-run fifth-wicket partnership before Haynes was caught behind by Trisha Chetty as Kapp finished with four for 16.
Australia lost their captain in the 16th over when she was caught on the boundary off Ayabonga Khaka but cameos from Carey (17), who hit the winning runs, and Sutherland helped the hosts over the line with three balls to spare.
“It was a good win,” said Lanning.
“We were under the pump early with van Niekerk and Lee getting them off to a good start and I thought our bowlers did an excellent job at taking wickets quickly and slowing them down towards the back end. We looked like we would be chasing a lot more than we were.
“I’m not worried about the top-order batting. The good thing about our team is that we have a strong middle order so can bounce back.”
South Africa skipper van Niekerk reflected: “It’s a little bit odd because in our first game we didn’t have a good start and even though we did today, we ended up with the same total.
“I’m really proud of Marizanne. She’s a world-class player and has taken those kinds of figures for so many years in the Big Bash and she’s done it again today.”
Atapattu and Siriwardena shine as Sri Lanka stun England by ten wickets
Sri Lanka produced the perfect finale to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup preparation, starring with both bat and ball in the ten-wicket win over England.
England started poorly with Danni Wyatt out in the second over, Anushka Sanjeewani with the catch off Shashikala Siriwardena’s first ball.
The top order quickly collapsed, Fran Wilson run out for 18 after being promoted to three before opener Amy Jones holed out to Atapattu on the fence, giving Siriwardena her second wicket.
England found themselves at 55 for four at the end of the eighth, a mix-up at the crease proving costly as Lauren Winfield was run out by Kavisha Dilhari.
Katherine Brunt was the next to fall victim to Siriwardena’s nagging bowling as she was caught by Nilakshika Silva for a two-ball duck, before England were reduced to 80 for six after 14 overs when Beaumont was bowled by Atapattu for 23.
Before long Atapattu had claimed her second wicket, bowling Anya Shrubsole for nine and not even Heather Knight could save England this time around as the captain was dismissed for 19 by Siriwardena.
Siriwardena played a key role in restricting England to 122 for nine with four wickets, but it was captain Atapattu who took the final - and her third – scalp when Sarah Glenn was caught by Dilhari.
It wasn’t just with the ball that Sri Lanka impressed, as Atapattu and Hasini Madushika’s unbeaten 123-run opening partnership secured their stunning ten-wicket victory, the captain putting on a particularly impressive show of hitting eight fours and five sixes.
England’s Knight said: “The defeat is disappointing. We were way off the pace today.
“Fair play to Sri Lanka, we saw some outstanding batting from them. They bowled well too with their spinners bowling quick into the wicket, which we didn’t react fast enough to.
“We weren’t ruthless enough with the bat which can cost you in T20 cricket with it being such a quick game. It’s better that it happens now than in the World Cup and I think we’ll learn a lot of lessons from today.”
India claim topsy-turvy clash with the West Indies
India’s vaunted top-order has been described as the most deadly at the World Cup but held no fear for West Indies, who ripped out Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues with the scoreboard on 17.
Harmanpreet Kaur offered temporary respite but the skipper swept straight to square leg on 11 and Veda Krishnamurthy also perished while sweeping to leave India 52 for five.
Deepti Sharma’s measured innings of 21 from 32 balls laid a platform for Shikha Pandey to throw caution to the wind, the bowler plundering three fours and a six from the final two overs to take the total to 107 for eight.
Pandey struck early with the ball when Britney Cooper offered a return catch but Lee-Ann Kirby, returning to international cricket after a 12-year absence, took over with a controlled 41-ball 42.
But four wickets in as many overs sent Windies spiralling to 67 for five as Kirby was castled by Sharma and Stafanie Taylor, Chedean Nation and Deandra Dottin followed.
Hayley Matthews unfurled some of her trademark strokes and Chinelle Henry helped take 19 from Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s penultimate over, but Poonam Yadav held her nerve and took two wickets in the last over to seal the win.
India’s Deepti Sharma said: “When the wickets were falling early on, there was no negativity in the dressing room. We were just positive because we knew others could contribute.
“My aim was to stay with Harmanpreet and bat for the whole 20 overs. You saw that we can bat down to nine and ten with how Shikha batted at the end. We were very happy our performance.”
West Indies opener Lee-Ann Kirby added: “It was the perfect warm-up match. It was about learning about the players on the opposing team and we did that.
“It’s great being back in the team and every innings I have builds my confidence. We’re feeling good as a team heading into the tournament.”
Australia beat South Africa by four wickets, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
South Africa 147-6, 20 overs (Dane van Niekerk 62, Lizelle Lee 29; Delissa Kimmince 2-34)
Australia 150-9, 19.3 overs (Meg Lanning 47, Rachael Haynes 39; Marizanne Kapp 4-16)
Sri Lanka beat England by 10 wickets, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
England 122-9, 20 overs (Amy Jones 23, Tammy Beaumont 23; Shashikala Siriwardana 4-22, Chamari Atapattu 3-21)
Sri Lanka 123-0, 12.3 overs (Chamari Atapattu 78 not out, Hasini Madushika 29 not out; Heather Knight 0-7)
India beat West Indies by two runs, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
India 107-8, 20 overs (Shikha Pandey 24 not out, Deepti Sharma 21; Anisa Mohammed 2-16, Shamilia Connell 2-20)
West Indies 105-7, 20 overs (Lee-Ann Kirby 42, Hayley Matthews 25; Poonam Yadav 3-20)
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 warm-up matches
19 February: New Zealand v Thailand, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
20 February: Bangladesh v Pakistan, Allan Border Field, Brisbane