What a stunning second day of World Cup cricket out in India. Three games which on paper looked done and dusted before a ball was bowled, but two of them threw up twists and turns that no-one could have envisaged and all had some fantastic cricket. Great news for this competition and for women's cricket in general. Fantastic news for Sri Lanka. Not such good news for England. Who would have thought that England would have had to fight back from 29/3 against Sri Lanka to post a reasonable target or that Australia would be bowled out for 175 by Pakistan? And no-one could have predicted the end to the England/Sri Lanka game.
England had Jenny Gunn (52) and debutant wicketkeeper Amy Jones (41) to thank for reaching a respectable 238/8 after losing three early wickets. The initial job of rebuilding fell to Arran Brindle (31) and Heather Knight (38), but they took caution to a new level as England failed to hit a boundary between the 19th and the 40th overs. Progress was painful. It was only 94 runs from the last 10 overs which took England to a total which they would have expected to defend with ease.
But that was not to give Sri Lanka the respect that they deserved. Openers Chamari Atapattu (62) and Yasoda Mendis (46) set about their job in workman-like fashion, with Attapattu in particular looking a composed and confident bat. Only Katherine Brunt really troubled the openers, but a dropped catch by Heather Knight reprieved Mendis early on. As it was the openers brought up a 100 stand before Attapatu scooped an innocuous ball from Brindle to midwicket. England had their breakthrough and it seemed just a matter of time for them to run through the Sri Lankan batsmen. Mendis had become a bit becalmed, but skipper Shashikala Siriwardene kept the scoreboard ticking over, as England's bowling looked rather ragged and ineffectual. But it seemed that the normal order was to be restored when a sudden flurry of wickets fell - four for 15 runs - to leave Sri Lanka needing 82 with five wickets left at more than a run a ball.
Sri Lanka however had another ace up their sleeve in the unlikely figure of stocky opening bowler Eshani Kaushalya. She had already accounted for Charlotte Edwards and Jenny Gunn during the England innings, and she now set about the England bowling with some aplomb smashing 56 off 41 balls, including three sixes and five fours.
But even so as they came to the 48th over England must still have felt that it was theirs to lose. Sri Lanka needed 28 off three overs. Brunt had bowled out so Jenny Gunn was entrusted with the ball. She bowled a poor over which went for 16. The equation was down to 13 off 12 balls. The pendulum had swung towards Sri Lanka, only to be heaved back England's way by a good over from Dani Hazell, conceding just four runs. Nine were needed from the last over to win and young Georgia Elwiss was given the task. Kaushalya got on strike for the second ball of the over, which she promptly dispatched for six over square leg. The game was up. Despite another poor dropped catch and the run out of Kaushalya, Sri Lanka deservedly hit the winning run off the last ball.
England now have to beat India on Sunday if they are to harbour any hope of winning this competition. Ironically if Sri Lanka lose to India and the West Indies, and fail to make the Super Six stage, this game will not have harmed England's chances of winning the competition as this result will not be carried forward. However on this form Sri Lanka are a team to be reckoned with and it may well be the West Indies who fail to get out of the group, or, dare we say it, England, if they do not improve markedly on Sunday. Sri Lanka take on the West Indies at the same time
Elsewhere the Australian's overcame their poor batting display by bowling out Pakistan for 84. Only Rachael Haynes (39), Lisa Sthalekar (32) and Sarah Coyte (35no) got into the 30s for the Aussies, with Sadia Yousuf's slow left arm claiming 3/30. In response only Bismah Mahroof (43) and Nahida Khan (10) achieved double figures, as Coyte took three wickets, and Perry, Sthalekar and Ferling two each.
And in the final game normality was restored as in-form New Zealand racked up 321/5 against South Africa thanks in the main to 145 from Sophie Devine and 73 from Suzie Bates. It was far too many for South Africa who reached 170 before they succumbed with Sian Ruck 4/31 and Morna Nielsen 3/34 doing the damage.
Eng v Sri Lanka - http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-womens-world-cup-2013/engine/current/match/594894.html
Australia v Pakistan - http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-womens-world-cup-2013/engine/current/match/594892.html
New Zealand v South Africa - http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-womens-world-cup-2013/engine/current/match/594893.html