England Academy managed to pull out a win by just one run against a young Sri Lankan side in the first match of their six match tour of Sri Lanka (four T20s and 2 ODIs). But Sri Lanka will be cursing that they did not make better use of the last three balls of their innings when a win was in their grasp.
Having lost the toss England were invited to bat first and skipper Tammy Beaumont opened up together with pinch-hitter Georgia Hennessy. The opening seam attack of de Silva and Kaushalya kept things tight and Hennessy (2) perished to a good catch at slip by Fernado from a flashing drive. Fran Wilson came in to join her skipper and immediately hit Kaushalya for two fours with a nicely timed pull and then a cut. At the end of the power play England were handily placed at 35/1 but Beaumont (23) perished soon after slapping a wide half-volley to Sri Lanka skipper Atapatu at extra cover. After taking 15 from Perera's only over of the game England had moved to 60/2 after 10 overs and had the platform to go on, but were tied down by some decent off-spin from Fernando and left arm spin from Ranaweera. By the end of the 15th over they had only nudged the score on to 81/3, having lost Wilson (36) dragging the ball onto her own stumps trying to sweep Fernando.
England needed a big last five to post a decent score of around 120/130, but it failed to materialise as both Sophie Luff (4) and Helen Shipman (32), after a mature knock, were both run out. Sonia Odedra could manage only seven off 12 balls and Holly Armitage (3*) and Alex McDonald (1*) remained the not out batsmen and the England score was just 111/6.
After the first over of the Sri Lanka reply things looked dire for England trying to defend their total. Atapattu helped herself to three fours off Odedra's over which went for 13. With nine coming off the third and 11 off the fourth, Sri Lanka had raced to 35/0 thanks to Atapattu and her opening partner Mendis, who hit off-spinner Steph Butler over the top of mid-on for four and then a six. But after a poor first over left arm spinner Jodie Dibble found the perfect length to bowl Atapattu (19) looking to drive. In her next over she also accounted for Mendis (24) adjudged lbw sweeping. Dibble, McDonald and Freya Davies then kept the Sri Lankans in check leaving them at 70/2 after 13 overs. This led to a silly run-out in the next over as Hansika tried to steal a second to McDonald at deep cover. After 15 overs the Sri Lankans were beginning to struggle at 84/3 needing 38 off the last five overs, but England allowed them to keep ticking the score over with singles, despite which they seemed to have got the job done as Odedra came in to bowl the last over with Sri Lanka on 100/5 and needing 12 to win. A first ball wide was followed by a single and then a perfectly struck four by de Silva, leaving six more required off four balls. Two came from the next as de Silva was dropped at deep midwicket and then she lost strike with a single to long off. It was the defining moment as S Weerakkody could not lay a bat on the penultimate ball as she swung wildly when a simple tap and run would have been a better option. She managed to hit the last, but Sri Lanka could only run one which meant the victory was England's.
Overall it was a decent performance from England in their first game, but they can expect Sri Lanka to come back hard at them in their next game on Wednesday at the same ground.
For a full scorecard see http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/710577.html