Manodara 84 ensures Sri Lanka clinch thriller
Sri Lanka women 221 for 7 (Manodara 84, Baig 3-41) beat Pakistan women 206 (Abidi 57, Gunaratne 4-41) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan flirted with their first victory in 14 World Cup matches several times over the course of the action in Leicester. They had Sri Lanka at 98 for 5 in the 27th over but somehow let them scramble to 221. Then, in the chase, they were 134 for 4 with a well-set Nain Abidi finding the boundaries at will. But she would be run out - the result of a mix up with her captain Sana Mir - as self-inflicted wounds eventually led to a defeat most agonising. They needed 16 runs in 21 balls when their last wicket fell.
Watching the chaos unfold from behind the wicket was Dilani Manodara. Thirty-four years old, and perhaps playing her last World Cup game, she couldn't have hoped for more as she first resurrected Sri Lanka's innings with a career-best 84 off 111 balls and then savoured a hard-fought victory - the only one her team will take home. Could she have imagined that when she had been at the crease, trying determinedly to glue Sri Lanka together? She might have despaired as her top four couldn't move past a score of 27, but in Eshani Lokusuriyage, she found someone willing to stick around. The two batsmen put on a pivotal 76 runs in 16.2 overs and the momentum shifted.
The other major contributor was left-arm spinner Chandima Gunaratne, who, also, at 35, might wonder if she can stay on the radar until 2021. Perhaps that had only spurred her on to grab her chance. She was given the new ball and it worked for her so well that her first spell lasted eight overs and fetched two wickets - Nahida Khan, bowled by the quicker ball, and Ayesha Zafar, caught off the slower one. Sri Lanka saved the last of her overs for the death, and that too proved a master stroke - she was brought back in the 34th and with her first ball she pinned Mir lbw and eventually finished with 4 for 41.
Abidi, by this time, was left to stew in the dressing room. Having come in at 43 for 2 in the 14th over, she did her best to upset the strangle Sri Lanka were so desperate to pull off. She was adept at finding gaps through point, third man and fine leg and her her free-flowing innings - 57 off only 68 balls with nine fours - seemed to suggest Pakistan might not have to walk away from another World Cup winless; they had lost all of their four matches in 2013.
But it was not to be. She was run out with the target 88 runs away. Asmavia Iqbal took up her place and fought bravely, guiding a brittle tail so very close to the finish line. But she ended up at the non-strikers end, with 38 off 45 balls, when Sri Lanka captain Inoka Ranaweera bowled No. 11 Sadia Yousuf to cap a special spell. Forty-six of her 58 deliveries were dots and then she took the match-sealing wicket.
It was Sri Lanka's first win in seven World-Cup matches, secured under the watchful eyes of Kathy Cross and Sue Redfern, the first set of female on-field umpires to officiate an international game since at least 2000.