India maintained its dominance at the Women’s Asia Cup with an eight-wicket demolition of a self-destructive Sri Lanka in the final here on Saturday for its seventh title in eight editions.
Sri Lanka, playing their first tournament final in 14 years, imploded after opting to bat on a slow and twisting field. They could only manage 65 for nine, which India teeted off in 8.3 overs. Smriti Mandhana hit a great 51 not from 25 balls.
It was a procession after Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu ran out in the third over after a mix-up with Anushka Sanjeewani, who also retired six balls later.
Renuka, who has been in top form since the Commonwealth Games in August, sent Hasini Perera back on the first ball. The left-hander checked her shot only for cover and left Sri Lanka nine to four.
The Sri Lankans were in dire need of a partnership but Kavisha Dilhari’s fall made it 16 to five when she was bowled over the line trying to play an incoming delivery from Renuka.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad got her first wicket after Nilakshi de Silva played on her stumps while attempting to slice a ball close to her body. At 32 to 8, a bowling out for a total under 50 was very likely, but Ranaweera saved them from that disgrace with an unbeaten 18 of 22 balls.
The Indians bowled with discipline, but poor shot selection contributed more to Sri Lanka’s steep slide. After a memorable win over Pakistan in the semi-finals, Sri Lanka seemed overwhelmed by the opportunity.
India lost Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues cheaply in the chase. Both batsmen have done well in the tournament, however, with Shafali returning to form and Jemimah making a successful comeback from injury.
The elegant Mandhana played some exquisite shots alongside skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (11 instead of 14) en route to completing the formality. Smriti’s efforts included three sixes and six borders. Fittingly, she sealed the win with a maximum ahead of Oshadi Ranasinghe.
The win is a shot in the arm for India’s preparations for next year’s T20 World Cup. They were able to test players for different roles during the competition, although it also contributed to their only loss of the tournament, against Pakistan in the league stage.
The Indians took a turn at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium and were clicked with a delicate gesture by all ground staff after their triumph, witnessed by a sizeable turnout.