Mumbai: Minnows Sri Lanka caused the biggest upset of the ICC Women's World Cup as they defeated defending champions England by one wicket off a last-ball six in a thrilling Group A encounter at the Brabourne Stadium on Friday.
After drawing level with England off the penultimate ball, Sri Lanka's Dulani Manodara pulled Georgia Elwiss over mid-wicket for a superb six to complete their first-ever win over their fancied rivals in any form of the game.
Chasing 239 for a win, the Lankans got off to a flying start with a record century partnership between Chamari Athapaththu and Yasoda Mendis, but slumped to 157 for 5 before Kaushalya Lokusooriya brought them on the doorsteps of victory with a whirlwind 56 off 41 balls with three sixes and 5 fours.
Kaushalya was run out off the penultimate ball at the non-striker's end before Dulani slammed Elwiss for a six to complete a shock win over the three-time champions.
The left-right opening combination of Atapaththu (62 in 72 balls) and Yasoda (46 in 98 balls) laid the foundation of the Lankan run chase. But after Atapaththu's exit at 103, the underdogs lost a clutch of wickets in a short span -- including that of Yasoda.
They looked like slumping to their eighth defeat in nine contests (one no result) against England in ODIs, before Kaushalya played the match-winning innings to knock the wind out of the champions' sails.
Kaushalya, lucky to be dropped on nine by Jennifer Gunn in the deep, took full advantage of her 'life' to hit her repriever for two fours in the 48th over in which the bowler gave away 16 runs.
Needing 13 from the last 12 balls, Kaushalya lost her eighth-wicket partner Deepika Rasangika, with seven balls remaining and her side needed nine off the last over.
The hard-hitting batter pulled Elwiss for a six to bring down the target, was dropped by the bowler in the next ball and then got run out in a dramatic final over before Dulani hit a six off the last ball to complete a famous win.
Incidentally, 187 is the highest total ever made by Sri Lanka against England in ODIs -- that was bettered in style today -- and 177 was the highest total ever made by Sri Lanka against England in the World Cup.
In between, Catherine Brunt and Georgia Elwiss shared the four wickets to fall in their second spells to bring England back after Atapaththu and Yasoda had laid a solid platform for Lanka.
Athapaththu, the aggressor in the big opening stand, used the bottom hand to good effect to pull and cut her way to nine fours and a six, was the first batter out, caught at mid-on off Arran Brindle in the 24th over.
Her partner Yasoda, lucky to escape a catch in the slips off England's pace spearhead Kathrine Brunt when on 5, played the supporting role to good effect as the duo raised the 50 of the innings in the 11th over.
Athapaththu completed her fifty in 64 balls, with the help of a six and five fours, and then raised the 100 of the partnership in the 23rd over with her partner before she offered a catch to mid-on off Arran Birdle and left. In all she faced 72 balls.
Lanka progressed to 142 and it looked a good position from where they could lead the final assault on the target, but the loss of three quick wickets -- including those of the well-set Yasoda and skipper Shashikala -- set them back.
Yasoda, Prasidini and Shashikala fell in that order between the 33rd and 36th overs for the addition of just 10 runs to bring England back into the game.
Left-handed Yasoda mistimed a pull shot off a ball dug in short by Brunt to be caught at short mid-wicket to end the second wicket stand between her and captain Shashikala. The duo added 39 runs.
Later, Brunt's pace partner Elwiss also came back for her second spell and packed off Prasidini who attempted an almighty pull and lost her stumps. The medium pacer later had Shashikala cutting a ball and being caught well at point by Lydia Greenway.
The same fielder caught Sandamali Dolawatte off Brunt five runs later and Lanka were staring defeat at 157 for 5 and at the end of 40 overs they were 166 for 5 and needed 73 from the last 60 balls.
The target was brought down by the attacking Kaushalya who struck the spinners for a six each over the straight field after being dropped on the boundary line when on nine off Colvin by Greenway.
Earlier, England recovered from a dismal start to their campaign and posted a competitive total.
England lost their top three batters -- skipper Charlotte Edwards, Danielle Wyatt and Lydia Greenway -- within half an hour and by the eighth over after being put in to bat.
Rocked by the loss of three quick wickets against a side which had not beaten them in eight previous encounters, England staged a rally through their fourth and sixth wicket pairs.
From at 29 for 3, Arran Brindle (31) and Heather Knight (38) steadied the England innings with a partnership of 64 for the fourth wicket in 100 balls.
After the loss of this duo in a short span of overs, it was left to Jenny Gunn (52 off 71 balls) and Amy Jones (41) to carry on the good effort with a stand of 83 in 101 balls for the sixth wicket.
Later, the tail wagged as England added 59 runs in the last five overs with Katherine Brunt making a quick 12 off five balls with a four and a six and Danielle Hazell scoring an unbeaten 19 with three fours in eight balls.
For Lanka, Kaushalya Lokusooriya, Chamani Senevirathne and captain Shashikala Siriwardene picked up two wickets apiece.
Brief Scores: England 238 for 8 in 50 overs (A Brindle 31, H Knight 38, J Gunn 52, A Jones 41; K Lokusooriya 2/49, C Senevirathne 2/35, S Siriwardena 2/62) lost to Sri Lanka 244 for 9 in 50 overs (C Athapaththu 62, Y Mendis 46, S Siriwardena 34, K Lokusooriya 56; K Brunt 2/36, G Elwiss 2/39, A Brindle 2/38). P