Sylhet (Bangladesh), Oct 1 (IANS): Right-handed batter Jemimah Rodrigues marked a glorious return to the national team with her T20I career-best knock of 76, and the bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals as India registered a convincing 41-run win over Sri Lanka in their opening match of Women's Asia Cup at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Apart from her knock of 76 coming off 53 balls, laced with 11 fours and a six at a strike rate of 143.40, Jemimah looked rock-solid in her drives and was also involved in a 92-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Harmanpreet Kaur (33) in a match-defining stand after losing openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma cheaply.
But after Jemimah fell, things slowed down a bit for India as they scored only 16 off the next 14 balls to be at 150/6 in 20 overs. In reply, Dayalan Hemalatha (3/15), Deepti Sharma (2/15) and Pooja Vastrakar (2/12) were instrumental in bowling out Sri Lanka for 109 in 18.2 overs.
Electing to bowl first, Sri Lanka had early success as Smriti and Shafali holed out in the deep in the first four overs. Jemimah took time before driving Sugandika Kumari for a brace of fours in the final over of powerplay.
She then dished out similar treatment in successive overs to Achini Kulasuriya and Malsha Shehani. On the other hand, Harmanpreet started her boundary flow by sweeping Inoka Ranaweera twice in two overs on the leg-side. But the scorching heat meant she needed attention from the physiotherapist and was soon stumped off Oshadi Ranasinghe a ball after long-off palmed the ball over for six.
Jemimah continued to manufacture a few shots after reaching her eight fifty in T20Is, like hitting Inoka for back-to-back fours -- smacking over long-on was followed by a cheeky reverse sweep through the off-side. It took an attempted swing across the line which was missed to shatter her stumps off captain Chamari Athapaththu, ending a sublime stay at the crease. After that, In'ia couldn't do much but managed to reach the 150-mark.
In the chase, Harshitha Madavi had a blistering start, taking three fours through cover, fine leg and off the outer edge in the opening over off Renuka Thakur. But the standout shot from her early burst was dancing down the pitch to loft Sneh Rana down the ground.
Though Deepti Sharma took out Chamari, Harshitha found an ally in Malsha to take Sri Lanka to 39/1 in five overs. In the final over of power-play, Malsha tried to steal a quick single by pushing the ball to a backward point, only for Deepti to gather it quickly and fire a direct hit after a 360-degree turn'at the bowler's end to catch her short of the crease.
Two overs later, a horrible mix-up led to Harshitha's dismissal. From there, it was one-way traffic as Pooja Vastrakar struck twice before Radha Yadav trapped Anushka Sanjeewani lbw and Deepti took another scalp. Dayalan Hemalatha then picked three tail wickets to draw early curtains on the match.
Brief Scores: India 150/6 in 20 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 76, Harmanpreet Kaur 33; Oshadi Ranasinghe 3/32, Chamari Athapaththu 1/8) beat Sri Lanka 109 all out in 18.2 overs (Hasini Perera 30, Harshitha Madavi 26; Dayalan Hemalatha 3/15, Pooja Vastrakar 2/12) by 41 runs.