Sri Lanka Women secure final qualifying berth at Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022


Captain Chamari Athapaththu plays key role in victory as Sri Lanka knock out Bangladesh

Sri Lanka won’t be going to the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand in March, but at least assured themselves of an opportunity to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be played in Birmingham this July-August.

Incidentally, Bangladesh, who, along with Pakistan and West Indies, pipped them to the ODI World Cup after the global qualifying event in Zimbabwe was called off midway in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, were once again in their way of securing the lone berth for the eight-team Commonwealth Games.

In a must-win T20I in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka rode an all-round show from captain Chamari Athapaththu to secure a 22-run victory on Monday. She first made a 28-ball 48 as an opener to set the tone for a strong total, and then picked up three wickets. This included the key strikes of Murshida Khatun and Nigar Sultana as Bangladesh faltered in their chase of 137.

Sri Lanka will now be placed in Group B alongside England, New Zealand and South Africa, while Group A consists of Australia, India, Pakistan and Barbados.

Sri Lanka are one of the few Full Members that haven’t slotted in bilateral international fixtures for their women’s team amidst the pandemic. Between the end of the T20 World Cup in Australia in March 2020 and September 2021, they went a full 18 months without any top-flight cricket.

As it turned out, their inability to improve on their ODI rankings due to lack of match time led to them being a non-participant at the upcoming 50-over World Cup starting March 4.

This will only be the second time that cricket will feature in the Commonwealth Games, but it’s a debut for the women’s game, as well as the T20 format, after a men’s 50-over competition was part of the schedule in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

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