Mumbai Indians remained the sole surviving inexorable force of the 2023 Women’s Premier League (WPL), as they recorded their fifth consecutive triumph with a 55-run win over Gujarat Giants, here at the Brabourne Stadium. After scoring 162/8, Harmanpreet Kaur’s team restricted the Giants to a minuscule score of 107/9.
Sneh Rana’s decision of bowling first initially seemed to be a masterstroke, with Ashleigh Gardner dismissing West Indies’ Hayley Matthews for a duck. Having lost a reliable figure much earlier than expected, Yastika Bhatia and Natalie Sciver-Brunt encapsulated themselves in a defensive shell.
It was a shell, however, which lasted no more than three overs, with both batters then opting to switch to their usual style. Albeit not at a brisk pace, the runs kept on continuously pouring for Mumbai, whose mid-innings tally read 64/1.
Sciver-Brunt's carefully crafted knock concluded when she was batting on 36, with Kim Garth breaking the 74-run second-wicket stand in the 11th over. One wicket brought another, as for the third time on the bounce, Yastika was unsuccessful to escape the clutches of forties as she departed after scoring 44 runs, losing her wicket to Sneh Rana.
Two set batters leaving the battlefield in a span of merely eight deliveries could easily have proven to be a game-defining moment for Rana’s team, but it was not to be, with her Mumbai counterpart playing a blinder of a knock.
The skipper brought up her fourth half-century of the competition, as she accumulated 51 runs in 30 deliveries. There was plenty of action at the other end, with three wickets falling in two overs, but Kaur remained undeterred, helping her team post a challenging total of 162 runs.
Giant Batting Collapse for Gujarat
Gujarat’s start mirrored that of their opposition's, as they too lost an overseas opener in Sophia Dunkley for a duck. Albeit going much slower than what the target demanded, the Indian pair of Sabbineni Meghana and Harleen Deol then steadied the ship by scoring 29 runs in the first five overs.
However, the sixth over marked the opening of floodgates, with the Gujarat batting order collapsing like nine pins. Meghana and Annabel Sutherland’s departures in that over were followed by Deol’s wicket in the ninth over, before Gardner’s wicket in the tenth.
With Issy Wong not being able to construct a rearguard either, the onus was then on Sneh Rana and Sushma Verma to keep their team in the hunt. Whilst their 28-run seventh-wicket stand under immense pressure deserves praise, it was far from being adequate for a full-blown coup d'état. Ultimately, the Giants’ response ended at 107/9.