Cape Town — The ghosts of the past came back to haunt the Proteas’ Women’s team in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup tournament opener against Sri Lanka at Newlands.
It was almost 20 years to the day when West Indies captain Brian Lara silenced the faithful under The Oaks with a brilliant century to stun the Proteas’ Men’s team in the 2003 World Cup opening game.
Sri Lanka’s Women’s team captain Chamari Athapaththu (68) produced a similar innings of substance on Friday evening that has left the Proteas’ in a state of shock after their three-run defeat.
Captain Sune Luus had spoken all week about the enormity of the occasion. And the 8 5000-strong record crowd that came through the turnstiles certainly ramped up the expectation on the home side.
The pressure was ultimately too much with Sri Lanka claiming a memorable victory.
Athapaththu’s half-century was the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s 129/4 with Vishmi Gunaratne also contributing a solid 35.
South Africa’s experienced seam bowlers Shabnim Ismail (1/22) and Marizanne Kapp (1/15) were economical, but the World’s No 2 ranked bowler Nonkululeko Mlaba failed to live up expectations by conceding 31 runs in her four overs.
The Proteas run-chase began in a positive manner through a 29-run opening stand, but once Tazmin Brits (12) drove uppishly to cover the nerves overcame the rest of the batting unit.
Left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera (3/18) was excellent for Sri Lanka as she tormented the Proteas with her use of flight and guile as she accounted for South Africa’s “Big Three” of Laura Wolvaardt (18), Marizanne Kapp (11) and Luus (28).
With Sugandika Kumari (2/28) and Oshadi Ranasinghe (2/20) also playing their part, the rest of the Proteas batting order wilted under the pressure.
Sri Lanka: 129/4
South Africa: 126/9
Sri Lanka won by 3 runs