Ben Gardner recalls watching a minnow pummel the best team in the world.
Chamari Atapattu: 178* (143b, 22x4s, 6x6s), v Australia, 8th Match, Women’s World Cup, Bristol County Ground, 29 June
The numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they bear repeating. Chamari Atapattu, Sri Lanka’s No.3, came to the crease in the first over of their World Cup fixture against the tournament favourites without a run on the board. She remained there until the end of the innings.
The left-hander’s unbeaten 178 made up 69 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 257-9, with the rest of her team combined making 60 off 157. Five of her six sixes came in the last 10 overs, as she put her foot to the floor with Sri Lanka seven down. This innings – the highest ODI score against Australia – was a sure sign that the so-called minnows are no pushovers.
However, the numbers don’t do full justice to the sheer magnetic force of the performance, how Atapattu exhorted her teammates out in the middle: ‘Just play straight,’ she seemed to be saying, ‘I’ll do the rest’. They don’t describe the ferocity of the strokes, how each six seemed bigger than the last, and how by the end she was swatting Ellyse Perry’s short deliveries straight back over her head. When she reached 150, she celebrated by passionately pointing at the name on the back of her shirt – as if anyone watching would ever forget.