Harmanpreet Kaur’s Supernovas beat Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers in Women’s T20 Challenge match.
The stars were out in full force. A top four of Smriti Mandhana, Alyssa Healy, Suzie Bates and Beth Mooney on one side, and Mithali Raj, Danni Wyatt, Meg Lanning and Harmanpreet Kaur on the other.
Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt on point as usual with the ball, but this time in light blue rather than their Australia gold. And in pink, Jhulan Goswami combining with Lea Tahuhu and Bates to back the spin trio of Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav and Danielle Hazell.
It was a one-of-a-kind match on Tuesday 22 May afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, with top female cricketers from around the world putting on an exhibition of their Twenty20 skills ahead of the high-profile Indian Premier League 2018 Qualifier 1.
It wasn’t as high-scoring an affair as they would have liked to showcase, but they did provide a display of smart bowling and top-class fielding in a low-scoring thriller.
In the end, the Kaur-led Supernovas in light blue held on for a narrow three-wicket win off the very last ball after a compact bowling effort had kept Mandhana’s Trailblazers down to 129/6 in their 20 overs.
In a 13-a-side contest, all players were allowed to bowl, but with only 11 batting and fielding at a time.
Put in, Healy and Mandhana began with a flurry, racing away to 17 by the second over. The Australian pace pair of Perry and Schutt, though, put firm brakes on the scoring.
Healy was caught at cover by Wyatt off Schutt. Kaur leapt backwards to pull off a two-handed stunner to send back Mandhana off the bowling of Perry. And Beth Mooney lasted just four balls before Veda Krishnamurthy pulled off a second remarkable athletic effort of the day, giving Schutt her second wicket.
From 26/3, Bates dropped anchor to add useful partnerships of 26 with Deepti Sharma (21 in 22 balls) and 45 with Jemimah Rodrigues (25 in 23) for the fourth and fifth wickets respectively.
It took another special effort on the field to deny the Trailblazers a chance to hit out at the death. Perry ran in toward mid-on and scooped up a low catch to break the fifth-wicket stand in the 16th over. She then returned to outfox Bates with a slower delivery, as the New Zealand captain was bowled for a 37-ball 32 in the penultimate over.
Schutt finished with 2/18 while Perry had 2/20.
Raj and Wyatt looked confident in an opening stand of 47 in 5.4 overs, with the Indian ODI captain striking the first six of the match.
The introduction of spin slowed Supernovas down. Raj fell to a loose shot off a Bisht full toss, before Yadav struck in consecutive overs.
Sophie Devine and Kaur added 35 through quick running, before Bates bowled her New Zealand teammate for 19 off 20 balls, which included one six.
The very first one-off Women's T20 challenge went down to the last over. What an experience this has been at Wankhede. Supernovas beat Trailblazers by 3 wickets. Smiles all around #IPLWomen pic.twitter.com/7WwnxEhAtu— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) May 22, 2018
Bates also had Kaur caught at the boundary as she looked to finish off the match in a hurry, and with Krishnamurthy too gone attempting a fancy shot, it seemed as if they would pay for their impatience.
From 113/6 in the 17th over, however, the calm head of Perry prevailed, even though she lost Mona Meshram to a run out in the penultimate over.
With four needed in the last over, Bates (2/16) did well to take it to the final ball, but a scampered single took Supernovas across the line. The fight to the finish was as good an exhibition as any.
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