Harmanpreet Kaur brought back memories of an evening in Bengaluru, 15 summers ago, when Brendon McCullum unleashed havoc on the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers to set the tone for the inaugural edition of the men’s Indian Premier League.
AS IT HAPPENED: GG VS MI WPL 2023 1ST MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
And on Saturday evening, Harmanpreet hammered 14 fours en route to a classy 65 off just 30 balls in the Women’s Premier League opener against Gujarat Giants and paved the way for Mumbai Indians’ 143-run win at the DY Patil Stadium.
As the Mumbai captain left the Gujarat bowlers clueless and went on to become the first player to score a half-century in the tournament, the social media went abuzz with fans drawing comparisons of her fiery knock with McCullum’s iconic 73-ball-158. Though Harmanpreet clearly would have no idea of such comparisons, she made it a point to guide Mumbai to a mammoth 207-5 before her bowlers bundled out Gujarat Giants for a meagre 64-9.
Put in to bat by rival captain Beth Mooney, Mumbai was off to a flier despite losing opener Yastika Bhatia in the third over. Hayley Matthews (47, 31b, 3x4, 4x6) steadied the innings before the India captain took charge. Making the most of Giants’ shoddy fielding, Harmanpreet hit seven fours off successive deliveries in her innings to forge a crucial 89-run partnership with Amelia Kerr (45 n.o., 24b, 6x4, 1x6).
As the Giants’ bowlers struggled to find a breakthrough, Mumbai picked up 130 runs in the last ten overs. To add to its woes, the Giants had a poor show on the field and making most of those opportunities, Harmanpreet put on an assault, before being caught at short third by Dayalan Hemalatha off a Sneh Rana delivery. Kerr, however, kept the scoreboard ticking with a bit of assistance from Pooja Vastrakar.
However, on a surface that seemed to benefit the batters, Giants still had hope. But things went topsy-turvy for the Gujarat outfit as its skipper Mooney walked off the field after injuring her knee on the fourth delivery of the innings. Harleen Deol, too, failed to open her account and was dismissed by Nat Sciver-Brunt on the last delivery of the first over.
Thereon, none of the Giants batters could step up, and as the game progressed, the team meekly surrendered, losing seven wickets inside eight overs, with just 23 runs on the board. As spinner, Saika Ishaque claimed four wickets (4 for 11), and Sciver-Brunt and Kerr bagged two wickets apiece, the Giants’ lower-order fell in quick succession. None of the batters - except Hemalatha (29 n.o.) and Monica Patel (10) - could reach double digits.
With the captain injured and controversy surrounding the exclusion of Deandra Dottin, the Giants have very little time to regroup before it meets UP Warriorz at the same venue on Sunday evening.