ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Lanning, Haynes steer Aussies past Sri Lankan scare
Australia's captain and her deputy put the team on their shoulders to carry them home after a top order collapse had tournament hosts in danger of an early exit
Laura Jolly at the WACA Ground, Perth
24 February 2020, 09:52 PM AEST
The match in a tweet: Rachael Haynes the hero has Australia survive a serious scare against Sri Lanka and post their first win of the #T20WorldCup
The score: Sri Lanka 6-122 (Athapaththu 50, Sanjeewnani 25; Carey 2-18) lost to Australia 5-123 (Haynes 60, Lanning 41*; Prabodani 2-17) by five wickets with three balls remaining at the WACA Ground, Perth
The hero: Rachael Haynes was superb under immense pressure in her 47-ball 60. After Australia lost 3-10, Haynes was promoted up the order ahead of Ellyse Perry and did well to steady the ship alongside her captain Meg Lanning.
They weathered the storm of Prabodani and while Haynes did not look particularly fluent, together with Lanning she managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over without letting the required run rate get too far out of hand.
The Australia vice-captain was given an enormous let off on 26 in the 13th over when Umasha Thimeshani put down a sitter at mid-on and Sri Lanka were left to wonder what may have been.
With Australia needing 44 runs from the last five overs, Haynes launched two big maximums to bring the required rate back to a run-a-ball – and bring up her half-century in the process.
She came unstuck attempting to launch again in the 18th, bowled for 60, but she had done enough to steer Australia towards a very, very nervy win.
The support cast: It was rarely pretty, but Lanning (41no off 44 balls) dug in to support Haynes and see her team over the line.
The Australian captain was given a huge let off when she edged behind on 15 and wasn't given out – Sri Lanka with no course to object having already burnt their review – and while she never looked her best with just four boundaries in her innings, her first pump when Ellyse Perry hit the winning run showed what this win meant.
Australia called in Nicola Carey and the pace-bowling allrounder made the most of her World Cup debut, collecting 2-18 from three overs and picking up the key wicket of Athapaththu.
The silent killer: Veteran left-arm seamer Udeshika Prabodani (2-17) produced a superb display with the new ball to leave Australia reeling.
A superb in-swinger rattled Alyssa Healy's stumps second ball of the innings, before she tied up, and then got through the defence of Ashleigh Gardner (2) in near identical fashion in her second over.
Her spell piled the pressure on Australia, and it showed in the fourth over when left-handed opener Beth Mooney (6) came down the wicket to off-spinner Shashikala Siriwardena and found herself stumped.
It left the hosts 3-10, and while Lanning and Haynes stemmed the fall of wickets, Australia could only crawl to 3-19 at the end of the power play.
The consolation act: Chamari Athapaththu promised she'd bring her trademark fearless approach against Australia and the Sri Lanka captain delivered, hammering a half-century from 37 deliveries.
Athapaththu loves a fast, bouncy wicket and the WACA green top seemed tailormade for the aggressive left-hander. She signaled her intent when she struck two boundaries off Schutt in the third over and cleared the boundary with an enormous six over long in off Delissa Kimmince in the eighth.
Upping the ante midway through Sri Lanka's innings, Athapaththu pumped the air in delight when she brought up a half-century from 37 deliveries, but she would not add to the tally.
A mix-up with Anushka Sanjeewani had both batters scrambling (and the television umpire checking for two run-outs) and it may just have snapped her concentration, as she holed out to Lanning off the bowling of Carey next ball.
The review: Sri Lanka and Shashikala Siriwardena thought they had Lanning caught behind in the fourth over and immediately turned to the Decision Review System, only for the replays to reveal the noise they heard was actually Lanning's bat flicking the gloves of wicketkeeper Sanjeewani.
It meant they had no cause for appeal when they again thought they had the Australian captain caught behind four overs later – and this time, ultra edge revealed she had indeed nicked the delivery from Kaveesha Dilhari. It was an enormous let-off for Lanning on 15.
The bigger picture: Australia have their first points of the tournament but they would never have expected to be pushed this close against Sri Lanka, the eighth-ranked nation who they have never lost to, and who they cruised to victory against three times in as many matches last October.
A loss here would have been an enormous blow to their hopes of advancing to the semi-finals, but they remain alive.
*phew* pic.twitter.com/QUdX6iToNX— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) February 24, 2020
The next stop: Australia will board a plane for Canberra on Tuesday, ahead of their showdown against Bangladesh under lights at Manuka Oval on Thursday. Sri Lanka will head to Melbourne, ahead of their clash with India at Junction Oval on Saturday.
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, Nicola Carey, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Molly Strano, Megan Schutt
Sri Lanka XI: Hasini Madushika, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Umesha Thimashini, Harshitha Madhavi, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Shashikala Siriwardena, Nilakshika Silva, Ama Kanchana, Kaveesha Dilhari, Sugandika Kumari, Udeshika Prabodani
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
February 21: India won by 17 runs
February 24: Australia v Sri Lanka, WACA Ground
February 27: Australia v Bangladesh, Manuka Oval
March 8: Final, MCG
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE
* All matches will be broadcast on Fox Cricket and Kayo, while Australia's matches will also be broadcast on the Nine Network