Charlotte Edwards captain of England and Shashikala Siriwardena captain of Srilanka during the toss of the ICC Women World Cup match. Photos courtesy: Vipin Pawar/ICC/SOLARIS IMAGES

Sri Lanka Women sprung the surprise of the day at the ICC Women’s World Cup India 2013 when Shashikala Siriwardena’s side beat the current world champion, England, by one wicket in a thrilling match at Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.

With scores tied with one ball to go, former captain Dilani Manodara smashed Georgia Elwiss over mid-wicket for six to stun the current ICC Women’s World Cup champion and create history for the Sri Lanka women’s side who had, until today, not beaten one of the top four women’s teams in the world (England, Australia, India and New Zealand).

Meanwhile, in Cuttack, New Zealand’s Sophie Devine became the second centurion of the ICC Women’s World Cup India 2013 today when the 23-year-old from Wellington made her first ODI century when she smashed her way to 145 against South Africa in the side’s Group B victory at DRIEMS Cricket Ground in Cuttack.

Also in Cuttack, Australia managed to secure a 91-run victory over Pakistan despite a disappointing performance with the bat that saw the side all out for 175 in less than 50 overs. However, strong bowling from Sarah Coyte, debutant Holly Ferling and Lisa Sthalekar saved the current ICC Women’s World Twenty20 champion, Australia, the blushes.

At CCI, the day belonged to Player of the Match Eshani Kaushalya, whose power hitting – 56 off 41 balls – took Sri Lanka to the brink after it appeared that the side’s middle-order had let slip the brilliant opening stand of 103 by Chamari Atapattu (62)  and Yasoda Mendis (46) in pursuit of England’s 238 for eight. Kaushalya also contributed with the new ball taking 2-49 off nine overs.

Earlier, after being asked to bat to skipper Shashikala Siriwardena, England were in trouble early at 29-3, before middle order contributions by Heather Knight (38), debutant Jenny Gunn (52) and wicket-keeper Amy Jones (41), who was playing for Sarah Taylor who is suffering from a minor hamstring niggle, propped England to what appeared to be a respectable 238 for eight. The England middle-order made a late surge taking 96 off the last ten overs.

Shashikala Siriwardena captain of Srilanka plays a shot during the ICC Women World Cup match against England at the CCI in Mumbai, India on February 01, 2013. (ICC/SOLARIS IMAGES)

Siriwardena said that her side always had the belief that they could pull off the chase and overcome England. “When we played against them in 2010 we lost by five runs. So we always had the faith and knew that our bowling and fielding were up to expectations. It was not easy. The main reason we won today was the team effort. Hopefully that continues.”

Siriwardena said that she trusted the ability of her players to beat England. “When we got here, we wanted to keep them under 200, but there were 39 extra runs. But I knew my players would finish it off. Our batting line-up is very strong. The wicket-keeper bats at No 10. So, even when wickets were falling, I knew the other batters would finish it off.”

Player of the match Eshani Kaushalya was elated at the win. “I had no pressure. After the first innings got over, I always believed that I will go out there and finish the match.”

Kaushalya, who’s a fan of riding bikes extended her daredevilry to batting too, with three huge sixes and five fours in her 41-ball knock. She kept going for her shots even when wickets were falling at the other end.

With two needed for the win, England bowler Georgia Elwiss dropped a regulation high catch off Kaushalya. “When the catch was dropped in the last over, I knew it was the lucky day for me and I knew we would finish it off,” said Kaushalya, a big fan of Kumar Sangakkara.

After the loss, England skipper Charlotte Edwards was effusive in her praise for Sri Lanka.  “We are bitterly disappointed. It is not the perfect start to the World Cup. I think lot of credit has to Sri Lanka and how they have played. We had a decent score and we let it slip there in the end with a couple of dropped catches. The credit has to go to Sri Lanka and today we just weren’t good enough.

“We were happy with a score of 238 from the position we are in after the start we got. Towards the end, some good hitting from Sri Lankans and some dropped catches from our side that really cost us. I thought if we could have held the catch down there (long on) we could have won the match by 30 runs and we paid for that.”

Edwards said that England did miss Taylor, who was out with hamstring niggle, but that wasn’t a reason for the loss. The 32-year-old stressed that England would come back strongly in their next game against India on Sunday. “We will pick ourselves up for the game against India. It’s not all over. There is no need to panic. We just need to come back hard on Sunday.”

Elsewhere, in front of an excitable crowd of local cricket enthusiasts and a large media following, Pakistan began its ICC Women’s World Cup campaign against one of the favourite, Australia.

At the Barabati Stadium, the Australians made a stuttering start after winning the toss and electing to bat on a cold and dewy morning. A decision that their captain would perhaps later rue after the side struggled to make a big total and eventually ended up 175 all out in less than 50 overs after some strong bowling by Asmavia Iqbal and Sadia Yousuf.

Sadia proved the pick of the bowling attack with 3-30, including the key wickets of Lisa Sthalekar and Ellyse Perry, the former attempting to paddle-sweep, but ultimately managed to drag the ball onto her stumps, a disappointment for the all-rounder who was beginning to build on an innings for the side.

Coyte came to the side’s rescue scoring a patient 64-ball 36 to help guide the side to a more respectable total. In reply, Pakistan lost wickets early on, including Nahida Khan, captain Sana Mir who had been promoted up the order and Nain Abidi, the trio managing to add just 19 runs to the chase before departing.

Coyte was named the Player of the Match for her all-round performance. Coyte’s 3-20 and debutant Ferling’s 2-10 helped dismiss Pakistan for a paltry 84 runs.

Sana was disappointed with the side batting performance but admitted the bowling and fielding of the side had vastly improved from the side’s recent loss in its warm-up fixture: “It was a mixed match today, I think the bowling and fielding by us has been exceptional and that gives us some positive, but the batting again has proven a disappointment and we need to improve on that.”

“I think both the opening bowlers did a really good job, and after that Sadia and Asmavia bowled really well. In the batting only Bismah Maroof did well but she needed just one more person in our team to support her at the wicket which didn’t happen today. We really need to stay at the wicket longer to show better performances,” added Sana.

Talking about the crowd of over a thousand that came to the Odisha Cricket Association’s main venue, Sana said: “It’s good to have support for yourself when you’re playing and to have the support coming for both the teams. I hope that more people come down to watch, it’s been fantastic to play here.”

Australia’s Fields said she was pleased with the effort the side showed to get to 175: “I don’t believe in the term tail-enders, we’re a side that can bat one through to 11 with Sarah (Coyte) out there to help build the total. I knew we could bowl with something like that which we ultimately did.”

Coyte added: “I think the main thing was to go out there and bat with confidence. We still had a lot of overs to bat when I went out, and it was about batting with the tail. We bat all the way down so I’ve confidence in every batter.”

At DRIEMS Cricket Ground, New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine starred in their side’s 151-runs win over a wayward South Africa.

Sophie Devine with 13 boundaries and six sixes along with her captain Suzie Bates (72) starred in New Zealand total of 321 for five.

All-rounder Nicola Browne also sparkled with the bat, making 40 off 20-balls with seven boundaries to provide a late flourish.

In reply, South Africa lost openers Yolandi Potgieter and Savanna Cordes early on and it was up to captain Mignon du Preez alongside Marizanne Kapp to steady the innings but it was too little too late as they were bowled out for 170.

A delighted Devine said post-match: “It feels great to have scored my first ODI century for New Zealand. There were a few plays and misses but I’m delighted to have helped us to our first win of the tournament.”

Reflecting on South Africa’s performance, Devine added: “I actually thought South Africa bowled really well, particularly their medium-pacers Marizanne Kapp, Susan Benade and Shabnim Ismail, on a pitch that was typical to the sub-continent.

“You never quite feel like you’re comfortable at the crease, you had to graft to stay there and after Suzie (Bates) departed it was good to have Sara (McGlashan) and Nicola Browne there to help the total go even higher.”

Devine also praised her side’s bowling: “We really concentrated on bowling nice tight lines and we had them instantly under pressure which I think helped to change their batting mindset. A couple of their players looked in good form, including their captain (Mignon) du Preez but we were consistent and patient and it worked in our favour.”

Du Preez admitted it hadn’t been a great start to the tournament: “Hard lessons were learned today. We didn’t take the chances that we created up front when we were fielding. We missed out on removing Sophie Devine for 11 and she made us pay a heavy price for that. Our lines and length were wrong and the fielding was not at our best. Losing wickets in clusters also prevented us from forming partnerships and all those things combined were our downfall.”

Scores in Brief
At Cricket Club of India
England 238-8, 50 overs (Gunn 52, Jones 4, Knight 38; Seneviratna 2-35, Kaushalya 2-39)
Sri Lanka 244-9, 50 overs (Atapattu 62, Kaushalya 56, Mendis 46; Brindle 2-38, Elwiss 2-39, Brunt 2-36)
Sri Lanka won by one wicket

At Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
Australia 174 all out, 46.1 overs (Haynes 40, Sthalekar 32, Coyte 36 not out; Sadia 3-30, Asmavia 2-37)
Pakistan 84 all out, 33.2 overs (Bismah 43; Coyte 3-20, Ferling 2-10, Sthalekar 2-19)
Australia won by 91 runs

At DRIEMS Cricket Ground
New Zealand 321-5, 50 overs (Devine 145, Bates 72, Browne 40)
South Africa 170 all out, 41 overs (Benade 37, Ismail 31; Ruck 4-31, Nielsen 3-34)
New Zealand won by 151 runs