Sivalingam scored 77 of her team’s 78 goals, beating the 76 she scored against the same opposition earlier on in the tournament. There was encouragement for Singapore too though, as they considerably narrowed the margin of defeat between the two meetings, eventually losing 78-57 here.
Unsurprisingly, Sivalingam the focal point of the Sri Lankan attack from the start, meanwhile at the other end of the court, goal keeper Chathurangi Jayasooriya won her 50th cap.
There wasn’t much joy for defenders at either end when the action got under way, as the first quarter became an intriguing battle between two different but equally effective shooting styles.
Sivalingam was the picture of consistency from under the post in the Sri Lanka shooting circle, while the effortless, eye-catching style of Singapore’s Charmaine Soh was again proving effective at the other end.
Despite one crowd-pleasing interception from the Singaporean defence, though, Sri Lanka were finding Sivalingam in the circle with almost mechanical precision, and she gradually built their lead as the first quarter wore on.
She registered her first miss – albeit she then converted the rebound – with 90 seconds of the quarter left, but the frequency with which her team-mates had been able to locate her in the circle meant that Sri Lanka ended the quarter with a commanding 23-15 lead.
Despite her shooters’ 100% record in the first quarter, Singapore coach Natalie Milicich made a change for the second quarter, bringing on the extra height of Pei Shan Lee at goal shooter.
As Soh continued her exceptional form in front of goal, Singapore began to build some momentum, as two successive turnovers handed them some impetus and helped reduce the gap at 29-22.
The long, high feed into the circle to Sivalingam was always an option for Sri Lanka though – despite the best efforts of the Singapore defenders – and she helped to push the lead back out and over ten for the first time.
With five minutes of the half to go, Sivalingam’s attacking partner Hasitha Mendis had her first shot of the game. She missed, but Sivalingam was on hand to ensure that the opportunity didn’t get away from Sri Lanka.
Singapore were still putting together some neat bursts of play, and hearing every interception cheered by the M&S Bank Arena crowd, but Sivalingam helped Sri Lanka to extend their lead further as the quarter progressed. The lead would have narrowed slightly had Soh managed to stay in play with a remarkably athletic attempt to retrieve the ball in the dying seconds, but despite her fantastic efforts then and throughout the half, Sri Lanka led 43-28 at half time.
Soh recorded her first miss of the match early into the third quarter, although she did well to regain the ball and score the rebound.
At the other end though, the ruthless efficiency of Sivalingam was continuing, and the lead hit 20 as she netted again to make it 53-33. Singapore coach Natalie Milicich made a change at goal keeper, bringing on Joanna Toh for Sindhu Nair, but the task off stopping the relentless service into Sivalingam wasn’t getting any easier.
By the end of the third, she had taken Sri Lanka out to a 65-40, with her shooting partner Mendis still having only taken one attempt at goal.
Both coaches rotated their squads considerably in the fourth quarter, which Singapore would go on to win by four. This was thanks in part to the defensive work of Nair and Aqilah Andin, which forced Sivalingam into more errors than she had made previously in the match.
Despite that, she had still recorded 100% of her teams goals right up until the last three minutes, when Mendis went for goal and converted for the first time in the game.
There was still time for Sivalingam to break a personal record though, as – with the last action of the game – she scored her 77th goal of the match, exceeding her previous tournament-high score of 76.
The match finished 78-57, bringing to a close both teams’ Vitality Netball World Cup.
Sri Lanka’s Tharjini Sivalingam said:
“I am so very happy. I enjoyed that, and I would like to thank the organisers in England, and my team-mates and coach. My team-mates practice their technique all of the time with each other, and I’m so happy that we have won.”
Singapore coach Natalie Milicich said:
“I’m really proud of how we finished. To win the last quarter was a real positive, and I think we’ve shown throughout the tournament that we never give up. Today was about us having a better performance and I think we did that, but the learnings for us are around consistency and managing those critical moments.”
Foto: Armin Küstenbrück
2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open
Wins also for Surrey Storm, Saracens Mavericks and team bath
photos by Tim Mavers-Chance
photo Dan Vernon
Foto: Armin Küstenbrück