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New Zealand were made to work hard for their seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the Women’s T20 World Cup.
Sri Lanka skipper Chamari Atapattu made 41 off 30 balls before becoming the first to fall in a slide of six wickets for 36 runs in Perth.
Trying to overhaul Sri Lanka’s 127-7, New Zealand were far from in control at 65-2 after 12 overs.
But captain Sophie Devine remained, anchoring a chase that was completed inside 18 overs with 75 not out.
It continues a superb run of form for Devine, who has now scored five half-centuries and a hundred in her past six T20 international innings.
And, although this result was expected, it adds to the intrigue of Group A, after hosts, favourites and defending champions Australia were beaten by India on Friday.
There were times when the possibility of another shock seemed plausible, especially when classy and wristy left-hander Atapattu was scoring freely off the New Zealand pace bowlers.
However, when she bunted a return catch to Lea Tahuhu at the end of the 12th over, Sri Lanka lost their way, especially in the face of the tight line of Hayley Jensen, who took 3-16 with her medium pace.
Sri Lanka further harmed their cause with dropped catches. Devine was put down on 18 and Suzie Bates, who added 40 for the second wicket with the captain, was reprieved at slip from the first ball she faced.
Still, with New Zealand needing 63 from the final eight overs, the game was in the balance, only for the Silver Ferns to take advantage of more Sri Lankan generosity.
A no-ball from off-spinner Kavisihi Dilhari was hit for four by Maddy Green, and the resulting free hit heaved for six.
With the momentum firmly behind New Zealand, Devine took 30 runs from the last 11 deliveries she faced, during which time she passed fifty, was dropped once more and, fittingly, hit the winning runs.
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