Chamari Athapaththu
Chamari Athapaththu. PC- SLC

In a remarkable display, Laura Wolvaardt’s personal best was eclipsed by Chamari Athapaththu’s career-high score as Sri Lanka defeated the Proteas Women by six wickets in a high-scoring final ICC Women’s Championship (2022–25) One-Day International (ODI) in Potchefstroom on Wednesday.

Athapaththu scored the third-highest individual score in Women’s ODI cricket, amassing 195* runs off 139 deliveries (26 fours, 5 sixes), well-supported by Nilakshika Silva (50 off 71; 3 fours). This came in a record-breaking response to South Africa’s formidable total of 301/5, propelled by Wolvaardt’s top score in ODIs (184* off 147 balls; 23 fours, 4 sixes).

Having won the toss, Sri Lanka opted to field first. South Africa made a strong start with openers Wolvaardt and Lara Goodall (31) reaching 46/0 in the powerplay. Wolvaardt accelerated, reaching a rapid half-century off 35 balls, including 24 runs off Kawya Kavindi’s (0/38) fourth over.

In an outstanding partnership, Wolvaardt and Goodall continued to flex their muscles out in the middle to help take South Africa into triple figures to reach the end of the 20th over on 111/0 before Kaveesha Dilhari (2/47) made the all-important breakthrough, removing Goodall, to end the 116-run stand for the first wicket.

The Sri Lankans didn’t have to wait too long for their next wicket as two dismissals arrived in quick succession with Delmi Tucker (1) and Suné Luus (0) departing via a run-out and an LBW off the bowling of Athapaththu (1/59) to leave South Africa 124/3 in the 25th over.

With the hosts three down, the experienced Marizanne Kapp (36) joined Wolvaardt at the crease as the pair continued their fine form from the previous match, combining for an innings-steadying 63 runs for the fourth wicket with Wolvaardt bringing up a second consecutive century and the seventh of her career.

With the home side’s tails up, a mix-up between the two in-batters then resulted in the run out of Kapp in the 35th over following a direct hit from Kavindi before the Proteas advanced to 200/4 after 38 overs.

On the back of Kapp’s departure, Wolvaardt found yet another willing partner in Nadine de Klerk (35) as the pair added a valuable 92-run stand for the fifth wicket to take South Africa to 279/4 before de Klerk became Dilhari’s second scalp of the afternoon.

South Africa eventually ended on a commanding 301/5 after their 50 overs, with Wolvaardt carrying her bat.

In response, Sri Lanka began steadily, with Vishmi Gunaratne (26) and Athapaththu forming a solid opening partnership. They reached 55/0 after 10 overs before Tucker (1/42) dismissed Gunaratne. South Africa continued to pick up wickets, with de Klerk (1/59) removing Prasadani Weerakkody (4), and Ayabonga Khaka (2/54) claiming two quick wickets to mark her 100th cap in ODI cricket.

However, Athapaththu led the charge for Sri Lanka, anchoring the innings with an unbeaten 195*. A vital partnership of 179 runs with Silva guided Sri Lanka to victory with 33 balls to spare. Athapaththu was awarded the Player of the Match for her outstanding performance.

Additionally, Wolvaardt received the Player of the Series award for her exceptional batting throughout the series, accumulating 335 runs in three matches, including two centuries.