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Cricket news - Sophie Devine's fifty-run hits Sri Lanka

Devine piled up her sixth T20I fifty on the trot.

Devine piled up her sixth T20I fifty on the trot.

New Zealand began their T20 WC campaign on a winning note, registering a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Perth on Saturday. Even as there were sparks of individual brilliance for Sri Lanka, as a collective unit, they failed with the bat and on the field.

Did Sophie Devine score another fifty?

Yes. An unbeaten 55-ball 75 today, including six boundaries and two sixes, extending her world record to six on the bounce.

Did Sri Lanka come close to dismissing Devine?

Yes, again. In fact, she was dropped twice.

But other than that, off the penultimate delivery of the fifth over of the chase, Sri Lanka took an ambitious decision of challenging the on-field umpire's call, which had ruled Devine not out for a legbefore appeal. For a ball that had pitched far outside the leg stump line, it was quite a risky decision to be taken so early in the innings. But there was good reason also, even if they had the slightest opportunity to get rid of Devine, who had come into the match at the back of five consecutive T20I fifties, to be dismissed in the powerplay. It didn't pay off, Devine survived, scored a fifty and won another game for New Zealand.

Were Sri Lanka ever in control of the contest?

New Zealand were overwhelming favourites going into the contest, having never lost to Sri Lanka in the shortest format. But it was around that point - at 18 for 1 in 5.1 overs - with Suzie Bates just gifted a life courtesy an easy chance dropped at slips, that Sri Lanka threatened to be the better team. Rachel Priest was run out, Devine was struggling to middle the ball and Bates yet to get off the mark. Udeshika Prabodhani had bowled three overs for only four runs, including a maiden that had the run-out of Priest. There were a lot of reasons why New Zealand could have slipped in the chase, but there was also Devine in the middle.

How did New Zealand steady their chase?

The New Zealand skipper didn't muscle her way out of pressure, but kept rotating the strike comfortably, and revived the chase with a 40-run stand in company of Bates, who had a reasonably scratchy stay in the middle.

Even when Bates fell in the 11th over, Devine ensured there was no stutter. It helped that Sri Lanka were sloppy with their fielding, which included three easy dropped chances. It didn't allow the bowlers to keep New Zealand under pressure. Maddy Green too made a handy contribution with the bat, even overshadowing Devine momentarily. She was eventually castled for a 20-ball 29 by Athapaththu, but by then New Zealand were left needing only nine runs off 19 balls.

Did Sri Lanka's batting rely too heavily on Athapaththu yet again?

Kind of. She top-scored yet again with a 30-ball 41 and provided Sri Lanka a strong start after they were put in to bat. However, in all this, her opening partner Hasini Perera's 28-ball 20 might not provide the complete picture of her contribution to the Sri Lankan innings or even the 60-run opening partnership, which came off only 46 balls. Hogging the majority of the strike in the opening stand, she constantly shuffled across in the crease, which troubled the pacers who couldn't get their lines right. There were four wides and even byes, with Priest struggling to pick the line. Her contribution possibly even allowed Athapaththu to make better use of the pacers who struggled with their accuracy early on.

How did Sri Lanka falter with the bat?

Athapaththu fell, Sri Lanka faltered. Familiar story. The skipper fell softly offering an easy return catch to Lea Tahuhu in her second spell. However, even at that point, Sri Lanka were well placed at 87 for 2 in 11.5 overs. And then the crumble started. Hayley Jensen bagged three wickets, Amelia picked a brace and amidst the fall of wickets, Sri Lankan batters struggled to hit the big shots. They were eventually restricted to 127 for 7, managing only 40 runs in the last 50 balls of their innings.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 127/7 in 20 overs (Chamari Athapaththu 41, Harshitha Madavi 27; Hayley Jensen 3-16, Amelia Kerr 2-21) lost to New Zealand 131/3 in 17.4 overs (Sophie Devine 75*, Maddy Green 29; Kavisha Dilhari 1-19) by 7 wickets.

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