Shades of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) 2008 opener were visible to cricketing fans watching the action from stands and on live TV as an all-round Mumbai Indians clinched a massive 143-run win over Gujarat Giants (GG) in a tournament opener at DY Patil Stadium on Saturday. The match had it all from explosive knocks to lethal bowling spells and showcased the highs and lows that come in the shorter format of the sport.
If it was New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum who had powered Kolkata Knight Riders to 222/3 in the 2008 IPL opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore, it was skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (65 in 30 balls), Hayley Matthews (47 in 31 balls) and Amelia Kerr (45* in 24 balls) who powered their side to a 200-plus score in the very first match of the tournament, helping MI post a massive 207/5 in their 20 overs.
Sneh Rana (2/43) was the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat Giants, while Ashleigh Gardner, Tanuja Kanwar and Georgia Wareham took a wicket each for their side.
Chasing 208 runs, Gujarat crumbled to heaps just like RCB did back then in 2008, when they side was bundled out for 82 runs by KKR bowlers while chasing 223 runs. Their pain was made worse by the absence of their star batter and skipper Beth Mooney, who had retired hurt in the first over after seemingly twisting her ankle.
GG batters found themselves at the receiving end of an unending onslaught by MI bowlers. Only Dayalan Hemalatha was left as a lone warrior with 29*, being the only one in her side to touch double digits, just like Praveen Kumar back in 2008. GG could muster only 64 runs in 15.1 overs before losing all their batters.
Saika Ishaque destroyed the GG batting lineup with her deadly spin, taking 4/11 in 3.1 overs. Nat Sciver Brunt and Kerr also took two wickets.
MI skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was happy with her side’s performance, saying that the day was a dream come true and a big day for women’s cricket.
Kaur also said that she backed herself to play her natural game on a surface she termed as a “good batting wicket”.
“I think it was a brilliant start, it felt like a dream come true. The first day and whatever we did it worked well for us. We kept things clear. It is a big day for women’s cricket and we talked about expressing ourselves. I watched the ball nicely and backed myself. Whatever came my way, I backed myself and it went my way. When we were batting, we knew it is a very good batting wicket. If you can hit the right area and right length, there was assistance for the bowlers too. And I am happy that every bowler bowled well. It’s a big day and big victory for us and the way we started, we are really happy,” said Harmanpreet in a post-match presentation.
Gujarat vice-captain Sneh Rana said that it was just a start and termed the loss as a “learning curve”.
“It is just the start, some of the players soak it up early, some will take time (on players getting ready at this level). A learning curve for us and we’ll come back strongly. The physio will be better placed to explain (on Mooney’s injury). I want to stand up for whatever the team needs, if I do get captaincy, we will try and execute our plans better. This was just the first match, we need to keep our heads high, we have players who have done well at the domestic level and we’ll certainly look to comeback stronger tomorrow,” she said in the post-match presentation.
WPL has surely got off an explosive start as the match had it all – fours, sixes, fiery knocks, bamboozling bowling spells, low scores.
Brief Scores: MI: 207/5 (Harmanpreet Kaur 65, Hayley Matthews 47, Sneh Rana 2/43) defeat Gujarat Giants: 64/9 in 15.1 overs (Dayalan Hemalatha 29*, Georgia Wareham 8, Saika Ishaque 4/11). (ANI)