Pakistan begun their ICC Women's Championship campaign on a high with an eight-wicket win against Sri Lanka in the first ODI of the three-match series at the Southend Cricket Club Stadium here on Wednesday.For Pakistan, Ghulam Fatima was the star in the match, returning with impressive figures of 4 for 21 from her 10-over spell. Sri Lanka looked pale from the very start as they struggled to put up runs on the board. A horrible mix-up in the fourth over resulted in the wicket of Hasini Perera, and though their captain Chamari Athapaththu managed to play some beautiful shots, she too perished before the end of the 15th over.
A third wicket followed soon after as the visitors slipped to 46/3. It is then that Nilakshi de Silva and Prasadani Weerakkody took on the task of rebuilding. The duo made slow progress, but their efforts ensured the Lankans did not lose further wickets. Steadily they rebuilt the innings, pushing the score towards 100.However, soon after their half-century stand in the 30th over, Pakistan struck back. It was all downhill from there for Sri Lanka as the hosts picked up three quick wickets in the space of four deliveries.If not for Kavisha Dilhari's resilient 49*, the visitors would have been in a more troublesome state. With Pakistan keeping things tight at the other end, Sri Lanka were bowled out for a sub-par 169 in the 48th over. Ghulam Fatima picked up four wickets, while Fatima Sana and Sadia Iqbal claimed two each.
Pakistan were cautious at the beginning of their chase of 170. Achini Kulasuriya provided the first breakthrough for Sri Lanka, dismissing opener Muneeba Ali for 14 in the eighth over.Unfortunately for the visitors, that was the only scalp they managed to get. Bismah arrived at the crease and, along with Sidra Ameen, got the hosts going. Both batters controlled the innings superbly. They knew when to slow down and when to accelerate, and Pakistan chipped away at the low total. The duo was rarely troubled as Sri Lanka failed to create any chances. The visitors' woes in the field also meant that Pakistan took advantage of misfields.The batters brought up their respective half-centuries. With two runs needed to win, Sidra chopped one onto the stumps to fall for 76. But her massive 143-run stand with Bismah (62 not out) ensured that Pakistan secured a comfortable eight-wicket win in the 42nd over.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 169 in 47.5 overs (Kavisha Dilhari 49 not out, Prasadani Weerakkody 30; Ghulam Fatima 4-21, Fatima Sana 2-24) lost to Pakistan 170/2 in 41.5 overs (Sidra Ameen 76, Bismah Maroof 62 not out; Achini Kulasuriya 1-13, Oshadi Ranasinghe 1-35) by 8 wickets.