Velocity’s Laura Wolvaardt and Simran Bahadur gave the 8600 people at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Saturday an important lesson in the power of belief but could not take their team across the finish line in the final of the 2022 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge, with Supernovas snatching a four-run win.
Kaur’s girls in blue extended their legacy as the most successful team in the history of the tournament. Velocity is the only side, among the three, to have never won an edition of this exhibition tournament.
While Velocity may have come prepared to take on the full force of Deandra Dottin’s monstrous batting prowess (which the side ultimately did bear), it was how lethal she proved to be with the ball that truly crushed any hopes of comfortably registering a win.
Put in to bat by Deepti Sharma, Priya Punia and Dottin started cautiously but eventually went on to register the highest opening stand in the history of the tournament - 73 runs off 57 balls. Dottin got a few lifelines via dropped catches and a lucky umpire's call going her way, but the partnership was eventually broken by Simran Bahadur when she drew out Punia who sliced the ball to Wolvaardt at backward point - a catch she needed to juggle a few times to safely hold on to.
Kaur promoted herself up the order to number three, taking over the ballistic duties from Dottin. The duo stitched a 58-run stand to take Supernovas to 103/1 in 13 overs. The side looked poised to go big given Velocity came under pressure after all the power-hitting, conceding extras in trying to find the right lengths to bowl to a set pair of batters.
Barring an expensive 18-run over from Radha Yadav, Velocity pulled up its socks to stem the run flow giving away just 39 runs in the last six overs for the loss of six wickets, sticking with how Supernovas have been with the bat this season.
Having set a 166-run target for a win, early wickets were a priority for Supernovas. However, Shafali Verma and Yastika Bhatia took advantage of the opening over by Mansi Joshi, bowling for the first time in this edition, ultimately picking 17 runs off her (most expensive opening over in the tournament’s history). 11 more came off the second over from Sophie Ecclestone.
Dottin pulled things back when she came around the wicket to Verma. She got her lines a bit shoddy in this over, giving away four wides but she began setting up Kiran Navgire, oscillating between back of a length and slightly short deliveries to cramp her for room. Navgire also copped a blow to the head and while she didn’t take too bad of a hit, it certainly shook up her composure.
Bhatia fell soon after and Velocity promoted Natthakan Chantam, who the side opened with in their first fixture. Dottin frustrated Navgire with a maiden over. The explosive Maharashtrian batter eventually fell to Ecclestone in the very next over, coming down the track and trying to go big, with the ball going straight for the stumps.
Chantam and Sharma could not contribute much and the onus of seeing the game through fell on Wolvaardt. Alana King removed Rana and Radha Yadav off successive deliveries but missed out on what would have been the maiden hat-trick in WT20C history.
Kate Cross’ brief effort was quickly nipped in the bud with the game looking all but over for Velocity. However, Bahadur decided to make things difficult for Supernovas, stitching together a 44-run stand in just 19 deliveries. The game turned from the 18th over, with Bahadur and Wolvaardt picking 14 runs off King and then 17 runs off Vastrakar to bring the equation down to 17 off the last over.
A noisy crowd rose to their feet when Wolvaardt dispatched the first ball off Ecclestone for a six over cow corner. The world number one T20I bowler stuck to targeting the stumps and the pair found it hard to free their arms and find the boundary. Kaur also smartly walked across to Sune Luus to see if she had the right field set for Wolvaardt and the mind games worked perhaps as she could only manage a single.
With six needed off the last ball, Bahadur’s desperate attempt only launched her bat in the air and not the ball, with Supernovas laying a tense finish to rest in its favour.
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