Finally, the wait was over for the women’s cricket fans. Last year we saw one exhibition match with women cricketers during Indian Premier League. Since then the demand for Women’s IPL has been high enough. BCCI finally agreed to organize four matches with three teams, Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity led by Indian superwomen Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj respectively. Sawai Man Singh Stadium at Jaipur is the allotted venue for all the Women’s T20 Challenge matches starting from 6th May to 11th May.
Women’s T20 Challenge kicked off on 6th May with the last ball finish in Jaipur. The two opponents, Trailblazers, and Supernovas played some great cricket and entertained the sizable crowd. Captains from both teams shined as both Smriti Mandhana, and Harmanpreet Kaur delivered two great innings of different kinds. Harmanpreet’s four boundaries in the last over took her team very close but Jhulan Goswami’s experience finally proved superior. As a result, Trailblazers won a thrilling match by just two runs.
It was a tough batting track. Moreover, Suzie Bates, one of the most experienced players in the lot was gone for just one run. Trailblazers were in trouble from the beginning when the captain took the charge. The young Smriti Mandhana started hitting from the start. She found a reliable partner in Harleen Deol and the duo remained there till the last over. Deol scored 36 off 44 and provided the support Mandhana required and the duo batted till the 19th over. On the other hand, Mandhana was smashed a brilliant 90 off just 67 balls. Her innings was decorated with ten fours and three maximums. She, thus also registered her best T20 score as a captain. Moreover, only Shreyas Iyer has a better score on IPL captaincy debut. It was for the skipper that even after the initial blow Trailblazers could reach 140/5.
Anuja Patil & Radha Yadav
Thanks to Smriti’s brilliance that the Supernovas had to use six bowlers. Anuja Patil was exceptional. She delivered three powerplay overs and finished with an envious figure of 4-1-12-1. She was obviously the most economical bowler for the Supernovas. On the other hand, Radha Yadav also had a memorable outing. She scalped two back to back wickets of Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma in the 20th over. Sophie Devine scalped the wicket of Harleen Deol.
The Supernovas lost Priya Punia (1) in the second over during the chase. But Chamari Atapattu (26 off 34) and Jemimah Rodrigues ( 24 off 19) took the charge to bring back the team on the track. Their partnership of 49 runs laid the foundation for chase. But these two were gone with the scoreboard reading 63/3 in 10.4 overs. Then the skipper took the lead. Harmanpreet Kaur scored 46 off 34 deliveries and remained till the last ball to take her team home. She found a partner in Sophie who scored 32 off 22 and carried the chase. The last over saw Harman hitting the veteran Jhulan Goswami brutally. She smashed four boundaries in that over and almost won the match for her team.
Blazers on Field
Trailblazers had a mixed on-field outing. They missed four catches and the bowlers were at times viciously hit by the opponent batters. But amidst all these, Shakera Selman accounted for a brilliant run out that sent the dangerous Jemimah back to the pavilion. Sophie Ecclestone on her 20th birthday took two major wickets and finished as the most economical bowler with a figure of 4-0-11-2. She delivered the crucial 19th over, conceded only two runs and took the wicket of Devine. The Supernovas required 19 runs off the last six balls to win the match with Harmanpreet and Lea Tahuhu on the crease. Jhulan Goswami delivered the last over and was hit by for four boundaries in the first five balls with just three required off the last one. But Harman missed the final delivery from Jhulan and Tahuhu was run out by the wicketkeeper, Ravi Kalpana.