Highest partnerships, highest team totals, best chases - batting milestones fell consistently in the 2022 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge in Pune. Here’s a look at five outstanding batting performances from the tournament this season:
1. S Meghana (73 off 47 vs Velocity): Left out of the Trailblazer's side for the first game, Sabbhineni Meghana had a point to prove when she walked out to bat alongside skipper Smriti Mandhana. With her partner falling soon after, Meghana had to shoulder the responsibility of giving the team a jump start with Jemimah Rodrigues, still a little nervous in parts, for company. Meghana underlined why she should have made it to the playing XI for India in the World Cup with a fluent innings where she dominated the Velocity bowling lineup, which featured seven fours and four sixes. Her solidity then gave Rodrigues comfort to open up and play her natural game.
2. Kiran Navgire (69 off 34 vs Trailblazers): One of the star attractions of this WT20C, Navgire’s big-hitting reputation preceded her. She was the highest runscorer in the recently concluded Senior Women’s T20 Trophy and was expected to carry some of those ballistics over into this tournament. She didn’t get a chance to bat in Velocity’s first game but was promoted up the order to stabilize Velocity’s chase of 191 against Trailblazers. She got on one knee and swept her very first ball for a massive six - a statement of intent about how she intended to go through the evening. Facing the likes of Poonam Yadav, Hayley Matthews, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, and others, Navgire went about her explosive batting with no fuss, hitting five fours, and five sixes in her innings to score the fastest fifty in the history of the tournament. While Velocity could not chase the target down, Navgire’s time in the middle assured the girls in purple a place in the final.
3. Harmanpreet Kaur (71 off 51 vs Velocity): Despite Priya Punia and Deandra Dottin managing good starts for Supernovas early on, the pair has struggled to consistently stitch long partnerships that can see off the powerplay (they only did it once successfully, in the final). This put the onus on Kaur, who comes in at number four (number three in the final) to steady the innings. After a prolonged lean patch, Kaur has found herself among runs, and her side benefited from it this season. Her standout innings was against Velocity when she templatized the sweep shot throughout her time at the crease. Despite changing field placements and restricting the space she had with their lines, Velocity could not stop Kaur from finding the boundary. Her knock featured seven fours and three sixes but went in vain as Velocity won the match.
4. Jemimah Rodrigues (66 off 44 vs Velocity): In the Trailblazers’ first game, Rodrigues came to bat when wickets were falling in quick succession at the other end. With Team India selections coming up for the Sri Lanka tour and eventually the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the 21-year-old needed to make the opportunity against Velocity, effectively TBL’s last league game, count. She did just that, playing able second fiddle to Meghana first and taking over the mantle after her dismissal to help TBL to 190 (the highest team total in tournament history) with an innings that saw seven fours and one six. Her partnership with Meghana, 113, is the second-highest in the history of the tournament.
5. Laura Wolvaardt (65* off 40 vs Supernovas) : The South African has had a good tournament with the bat, with a 51 in her first WT20C game against Supernovas earlier this week. While that was more textbook, this one was more crucial to the side’s fortunes, with the final on the line. Wolvaardt came in after Navgire had failed with the bat, falling to a 13-ball duck. Needing partners, she got off to a slow start but began finding the boundaries once she settled in. With her second unbeaten score and half-century this season, she has been the perfect finisher for Velocity but could not see the team through to a win in the final, with Velocity falling short by just four runs. Wolvarrdt’s knock featured five fours and three sixes, with one maximum down the ground that was particularly delightful to watch.
Deandra Dottin: The Windies cricketer makes it here only because of how regular these types of knocks are from her. The ‘World Boss’- as she goes by - packs immaculate timing with brute strength, and her 44-ball 62 in the final against Velocity underlined just that. Despite getting off to a cautious start, to come to terms with the occasion, Dottin alongside Punia first and then Kaur, stepped on the accelerator to get the team’s total going. Wary of the power hitters Velocity had, Dottin did her job to the thee, hitting four sixes and one four in her knock. She also adapted to the match situation seamlessly, moving to an anchor role while Kaur did the big-hitting from the other end. Her utility with bat and ball won her the Player of the Match and Series accolades.
Simran Dil Bahadur: This Velocity player had lousy luck throughout the tournament with the ball, with several catches off her bowling going down in the field. However, when things got hard for Velocity in the final, and the side was staring at an inevitable defeat, Bahadur stepped up with a 10-ball 20*, which saw her blindly swing her bat to send whatever she could to the boundary line. 18 of those 20 runs came from boundaries - three fours and one big six. Bahadur along with Wolvaardt nearly won Velocity the title, but Ecclestone kept her calm in the final over, denying her opponents their maiden title by four runs.