Sri Lanka's Super Six qualification is superb story, says Clare Connor
Sri Lanka have improved beyond recognition to reach the World Cup Super Sixes, says Clare Connor.
Last Updated: 05/02/13 6:36pm
Shashikala Siriwardene's side knocked the hosts out of the tournament with a clinical all-round display in Mumbai, as India - set a victory target of 283 - were bowled out for just 144 in 42.2 overs.
The win earned Sri Lanka their second major scalp of the tournament after they stunned defending champions England in their opening Group A match and Connor, Head of England Women's Cricket, said the victory was no fluke.
"They've improved beyond recognition," Connor told Sky Sports. "Four years ago they didn't come close to winning a game in the World Cup. This time they've beaten the World Champions and the hosts India - the two 'big-ticket teams' in the tournament.
"They'll be so proud of themselves and rightly so. What's most impressive about it is the 'bouncebackability' they've shown.
"They lost to the West Indies a couple of days ago by over 200 runs and they've had to come out today and recover from that and put everything that they did so well against England back into effect today and they've done it superbly well. I'm really, really pleased for them."
Deepika Rasangika earned the Player of the Match award for striking 84 off 109 balls but she had solid support from Yasoda Mendis (55), Siriwardene (59) and Eshani Kaushalya (56no).
Former England seamer Isa Guha told Sky Sports that Sri Lanka are a side pulling in one direction.
"They are a wonderful team to watch and it's great to see them with a smile on their face," she said. "There were contributions from everyone - four batters registered 50-plus. It just shows it's a real team effort.
"They've been fantastic today - they've given it absolutely everything. They've done their homework. They've played 17 games against India and never won one, so it was about time that they did and they've come away with a superb win today.
"India were the team to beat at the start of the tournament; they looked like they were playing some extremely good cricket. They were extremely clinical against the West Indies in all facets of the game.
"But it just shows that in a tournament like this you can ill-afford to slip up. Today they weren't quite at their best and Sri Lanka capitalised on that and it's a real shock for them not to even make it through to the Super Sixes."
Sri Lanka are joined in the Super Six stage by England, who finished top of Group A after beating West Indies by six wickets with 90 balls in the locker.
England's next game is against Australia on February 8 at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, before they travel to Cuttack to take on South Africa on February 10. They complete their Super Six matches back in Mumbai on February 13, when they take on New Zealand in a day-night contest.
Connor said: "Ideally it's not what you would have scheduled. It's obviously been brought about by circumstances out of everybody's control given the tension with the Pakistan situation in the build-up to the tournament, which meant that Group B - which included Pakistan - needed to be based out of Mumbai.
"So, unfortunately, non-cricketing circumstances have played their part in a cricket tournament. But that's the way it is. Lottie [Charlotte Edwards] was fairly positive about the whole thing and I guess it's just a case of needs-must and get on with it."
Guha added: "England are definitely back on track. After losing that first game to Sri Lanka, they came out fighting against India in what was a superb performance.
"India came out well and they were playing some good, good cricket but that hundred from Charlotte at the start of the day really set them up for the rest of the innings. They got themselves up to a good score and then the bowlers bowled really well, led by Katherine Brunt.
"What's great to see now is that Anya Shrubsole and Arran Brindle are contributing now in the bowling department, taking a little bit of pressure off Katherine Brunt.
"It's great from England's perspective to have everyone contributing as they go into the Super Six stage."
Watch England take on Australia in the Super Sixes on Friday at 3.25am on Sky Sports 1 HD.