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Taniya Bhatia shines with bat and gloves to hand India series

India women 219 (Bhatia 68, Raj 52, Atapattu 3-42) beat Sri Lanka women 212 (Atapattu 57, Siriwardene 49) by 7 runs

The score of 219 has been a monkey on India's back since their botched chase of 229 in the 2017 World Cup final. During the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, the monkey came bounding from Lord's to Galle - this time, India were defending 219.

At various points during the game, Sri Lanka looked like pulling off an impressive win and keeping the three-match series alive, but each time they ran into Taniya Bhatia. The wicketkeeper-batsman, playing only her second ODI, lifted India to a respectable total with a 66-ball 68, her maiden international half-century. She then took two vital catches and pulled off a stumping during the end overs of Sri Lanka's chase to hand India a seven-run win.

The first of those grabs came in the 42nd over. Poonam Yadav, the legspinner, had conceded only 25 off her 8 overs until then and had just broken a brisk 31-run sixth-wicket stand between Sripali Weerakkody (17 off 14) and Anushka Sanjeewani (17 off 20) with a wily run-out of the former, off her own bowling.

Off the next ball, Sanjeewani unleashed an almighty sweep against a loopy legbreak, only for Bhatia to grab the faint edge that flew overhead to her left.

That left Sri Lanka needing 55 from 51 balls, with three wickets in hand. Still, their lower order was far from daunted, as the No. 8 batsman Nilakshi de Silva, launched a counterattack that saw her hammer four boundaries, including two giant sixes off Yadav in the 44th over. She had trotted to 31 off only 18 balls and reduced the equation to 13 required off 18 balls with two wickets in hand.

India's discomfort was clear when captain Mithali Raj and vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur had a long discussion with medium-pacer Mansi Joshi (2 for 49) before the 48th over, her ninth. Their unease, however, was alleviated once more by Bhatia. Off the first ball of Joshi's over, de Silva miscued a slog and sent a top-edge flying towards the short fine leg region. Bhatia turned around and covered the distance just in time, snaffling the catch with a dive forward.

In the next over, Bhatia brought an end to Sri Lanka's late flourish, stumping Inoka Ranaweera off Deepti Sharma.

Bhatia's greater contribution to India's triumph, however, came earlier in the day after Sri Lanka had reduced the visitors to 66 for 4 in 22.3 overs after they had opted to bat first. Smriti Mandhana holed out for a run-a-ball 14, while opener Punam Raut and No. 4 batsman Harmanpreet both fell to Weerakkody's pace.

India inched towards 150 as Bhatia added 76 with Raj in an uneasy exhibition of contrasting styles. Raj spent 121 balls in scoring a slow but vital 52 - her 51st ODI fifty - while Bhatia smacked nine fours en route to her 66-ball 68. In doing so, she became the first India women player since Veda Krishnamurthy - who scored 51 on debut in 2011 - to hit a fifty in her maiden ODI innings.

Bhatia found an able ally in D Hemalatha, her fellow debutant from the series opener. Hemalata was involved in two 37-run stands, first with Bhatia and then with Shikha Pandey (15 off 14) en route to a 31-ball 35.

Chamari Atapattu, the Sri Lanka captain, took three lower-order wickets, including that of No. 11 Yadav off the last ball of India's innings, to go with her 57 at the top of the order. Atapattu's performance, however, wasn't quite enough to haul Sri Lanka over the line.

SL Women 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st17AC JayanganiPM Weerakkody
2nd4AC JayanganiMDN Hansika
3rd19MADD SurangikaAC Jayangani
4th89HASD SiriwardeneAC Jayangani
5th5AC JayanganiMAA Sanjeewani
6th31SS WeerakkodyMAA Sanjeewani
7th0MAA SanjeewaniNND de Silva
8th40KDU PrabodhaniNND de Silva
9th2NND de SilvaBMSM Kumari
10th5I RanaweeraBMSM Kumari