Sri Lanka batter Chamari Athapaththu has smashed Australia's bowlers all around Bristol in their Women's World Cup clash, and with it smashed a host of records.
Her incredible knock of 178 not out was the third highest individual score in women's ODI cricket. It also broke a 35-year-old record for the highest individual percentage of runs in an innings. It was the highest individual score the Southern Stars had ever conceded, and subsequently was the highest the Sri Lankan team had ever amassed against Australia.
Athapaththu's blitz caught the defending World Cup champions by surprise, after Australia captain Meg Lanning won the toss and sent the Sri Lankans in. The No.3 batter found herself at the crease after just three balls, but was defiant for the next 49.3 overs, and the Australians applauded her off the field after one of the all-time greatest individual performances. At the innings break she detailed her game plan and said playing against male teenage quicks had helped her prepare for the Australian pace onslaught.
"The last three months we work hard," Athapaththu said. "We played against under-17 and under-19 boys, and that's the main reason I can handle fast bowlers. "First 20 or 30 overs I tried for singles and the odd boundary. Then after 35 overs I tried to hit the ball over the rope." A simple plan, but it was executed to magnificent effect.
Athapaththu reached her fifty in the 20th over from 61 balls. She'd hit eight fours by then. At the 35 over mark she identified, she had reached 75 from 95 balls with 12 boundaries. The next over yielded nine runs from Megan Schutt, Kristen Breams was launched for a massive slog-swept six the one after that too Sri Lanka past 150, and the one after that saw Ellyse Perry smacked for 10 runs. Athapaththu's century – her third ODI ton – came in the 39th over, from 106 balls. Twenty-five balls later and suddenly she had 150 with 20 boundaries and four sixes. Two more sixes came in consecutive balls in Beams' final over – the six she struck equalled the most ever hit in a women's ODI. These were shots that cleared the County Ground's fence, well past the rope that sits inside the fence for limited-overs matches. Suddenly, she was past England's Charlotte Edwards for third all-time in women's ODI cricket. The second spot was only out of reach as, batting with the tail, she was stranded at the non-strikers end as Sri Lanka's tailenders struggled to rotate the strike.
Australia legend Belinda Clark's 229 not out, scored against Denmark in the 1997 World Cup at Mumbai, remains the highest ever individual score in a women's ODI. India teenager Deepti Sharma's 188, scored against Ireland earlier this year in Potchefstroom, is the second highest. Her 178 gave her 69.26 per cent of the Sri Lankan team total, the highest individual percentage of runs in a completed innings in the history of the women's game. That erased England's Lynne Thomas from the record books; she had scored 61.94 per cent of her team's total in 1982, with 70 off 113. All the more remarkable for Athapaththu, was that her previous knocks against the Australian side had yielded scores of 10, 0, 0, 15 and 26. Her innings was the highest score by any player against Australia in an ODI, surpassing the 122 scored by New Zealand's Suzie Bates. The epic century from Athapaththu guided her team to 9-257 from their 50 overs, well in excess of their previous highest total against Australia, the 9-176 they scored in Dambulla last September.