Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers got its title defense off to a poor start with a 49-run loss against two-time champion Supernovas in the opening fixture of the 2022 Women’s T20 Challenge at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Monday.
After restricting Supernovas to 163, Mandhana and opening partner Hayley Matthews looked almost impatient to get the job done quickly. For a while, it looked like they would go all the way with a brisk 39-run stand in 30 balls, targeting V Chandu, the only uncapped Indian player to get a game in the match.
While the focus was understandably on star bowlers Sophie Ecclestone (ranked number one in T20Is) and ODI World Cup winner Alana King, it was Pooja Vastrakar who dismantled the Trailblazers’ top order singlehandedly to swing the match in favour of the girls in blue.
While King and Ecclestone conceded 14 and 12 runs in their respective first overs, Vastrakar carried her good form with the ball into this match, varying her lengths at will and deceiving the batters. She drew the batters out to mistime their shots and also managed an enviable economy rate of 3.00, having conceded just 12 runs to pick four wickets in her four overs.
Jemimah Rodrigues, who began her part in the chase alongside Mandhana, found herself running out of partners in quick succession with King and Ecclestone also getting among the wickets.
The Supernovas takes on Velocity on Tuesday. The Trailblazers seemed in more of a hurry to get through their jitters with the bat. Building partnerships and working on strike rotation will be priorities for Mandhana and Co. ahead of their next match on Thursday.
The highest PowerPlay score of the tournament; highest innings total and eventually the biggest margin of victory in the tournament’s history (in terms of runs) – these were some of the records that were casually ticked off in this game by the Supernovas. Deandra Dottin and Priya Punia put together a 50-run stand for the first wicket, but the Trailblazers pulled things back with the ball, with regular wickets through the innings.
Run-outs due to miscommunication between the batters were a common feature in the innings with Dottin and Harmanpreet falling at crucial junctures.
The change in tempo is evident in the run split-up for the Supernovas – 91 runs for the loss of two wickets in the first 10 overs, but just 72 for eight in the final 10. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was confident in her bowling arsenal; enough to not need to roll her arm herself.
While away from the cheers she received from the crowds along the boundary line, Matthews was the pick of the bowlers for the side in pink, returning numbers of 3/29.
SCORES IN BRIEF:
Supernovas 163 /10 (Kaur 37, Deol 35 Matthews 3/29) beat Trailblazers (Mandhana 34, Rodrigues 24; Vastrakar 4/12) by 49 runs
Supernovas vs Velocity | 3.30 pm | 24 May (Tuesday) | MCA Stadium, Pune