Captain and vice-captain save Australia’s sinking ship

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Australia are still afloat in the Twenty20 World Cup as captain Meg Lanning and vice-captain Rachael Haynes saved their side’s sinking ship against Sri Lanka at the WACA Ground on Monday.

Desperately needing a win after being upset by India in the tournament-opener in Sydney on Friday night, the Australians would have been forgiven for being a touch nervous as rain hovered in Perth less than two hours before their meeting with the eighth-ranked Sri Lankans.

Captain Meg Lanning hit 41 for the Australians in their win over Sri Lanka.Credit:Getty Images

Lanning should probably have been gone for 15 in the eighth over, with technology appearing to show a nick to a ball from Kavisha Dilhari which yielded a huge appeal. But the Sri Lankans had already burnt their only review, so had no recourse to challenge.

Dilhari briefly had Haynes out lbw for 15 in the 10th over only for the vice-captain to successfully review that decision.

Haynes then had a life on 26 when an overhead catch was put down at mid-on off the bowling of Sri Lankan captain Chamari Atapattu.

But the more opportunities were blown by Sri Lanka, the more the Australians settled.

Rachael Haynes scored 60 from 47 balls to help lead the Australians to victory.Credit:AAP

Haynes broke the back of the chase with consecutive sixes off Sugandika Kumari to end the 16th over, bringing up her half-century in the process.

Dropped again on 59, Haynes eventually became Siriwardena’s second victim, stumped for 60 from 47 balls. However by that point the equation was down to 18 needed from 17 balls.

Lanning – who finished 41 not out from 44 – was herself put down by the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper on 33, and Nicola Carey was bowled for five. However Lanning and Ellyse Perry were good enough to steer the Australians home by five wickets with three balls to spare.

Even during the Sri Lankan innings there were junctures at which it appeared things could turn pear-shaped for the Australians, like when light rain trickled down in the 13th over or when Sri Lankan taliswoman Atapattu reached her half-century from 37 balls in the 14th over.

Australia’s decision to recall Carey at the expense of Annabel Sutherland proved vindicated as Carey got the crucial breakthrough, removing Atapattu for an even half-century as the Sri Lankan skipper sent the ball straight to Lanning – playing her 100th T20 international – at mid-off.

Sri Lanka’s unhealthy reliance on Atapattu was laid bare following her dismissal. From 2-91, Sri Lanka plummeted to 5-101 as Molly Strano stifled the Sri Lankan middle order.

The Australian fielding effort was far from flawless, with Megan Schutt and Healy both missing run-out chances.

A defeat would not have officially eliminated Australia but it would have taken the hosts’ fate out of their hands heading into Thursday night’s meeting with Bangladesh in Canberra.

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