Sydney:Mithali Raj stood tall amid the ruins as India edged out Sri Lanka by 35 runs to book a place in the Super Six stage of the ICC Women's World Cup cricket tournament on Thursday.
Opting to bat first in the Group B match at the Bankstown Oval, India slumped to 78 for seven before an unbeaten 59-run stand for the seventh wicket between former captain Mithali (75) and incumbent Jhulan Goswami (24) guided the side to 137 for seven, a total that looked far from imposing.
Fortunately for them, Sri Lankan batters did even worse as Amita Sharma (3/19), Rumeli Dhar (2/10) and Gouher Sultana (2/16) shone with the ball to skittle out the islanders for 102 in 44.2 overs.
India's second victory did earn them a place in the group stage but their batters looked far from convincing today.
India had a disastrous start to their innings and by the sixth over, they had lost their two top-order batters to slump to 11 for two.
Mithali, who had contributed 59 out of 169 against England, came to India's rescue once again and the fact that she hit just one four in her unbeaten 120-ball knock speaks volumes of her grit when wickets kept tumbling at the other end.
Apart from Mithali and Jhulan, only Anagha Deshpande (17) managed a double digit score. Jhulan played a brisk unbeaten 27-ball 24 to push the score.
Chasing a rather low target, Sri Lanka got off to a sedate start with openers Dedunu Silva (21) and Chamari Polgampola (12) adding 37 runs before Priyanka Roy drew first blood in the 19th over removing Silva.
Three overs later, Polgampola joined Silva in the pavilion after Amita had trapped her leg before wicket.
The two quick dismissals unhinged the Lankans and the islanders succumbed to a batting collapse. Eshani Kaushalya (20) tried her best but it was too late by then and the Indian bowlers ran through the Lankan middle and lower order, skittling them out inside 45 overs.
India play hosts Australia in their first Super Six match at the same venue on Saturday.