Gujarat Giants, after a stuttering start to its campaign, takes on an undeterred Delhi Capitals in the ninth match of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) on Saturday at the Dr. DY Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai.
While the Giants won their previous match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, they lost their opening two matches against Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz. Mumbai beat Gujarat by 143 runs after the latter fell like ninepins, chasing 208. Experienced batters like Ashleigh Gardner and Harleen Deol failed to open their accounts while the rest could manage single-digit scores. D. Hemalatha (28 off 23) was the lone exception.
Even though the Giants’ batters put up an improved show against the Warriorz, with Deol scoring a quickfire 46 off 32, there emerged a familiar trope - the Gujarat batters misfired against the spinners.
With Sneh Rana taking over Gujarat’s captaincy from Beth Mooney, who has been ruled out of the tournament because of a calf injury, the Giants rose from the ashes against bottom-placed RCB. After an off day against the Warriorz, Sophia Dunkley scored the fastest fifty of the WPL, off just 18 balls. With Deol also smashing 67, the Giants registered their first win.
Meanwhile, the Giants would be delighted to have Laura Wolvaardt in the squad. It will give the top-order a much-needed cushioning.
In contrast, Delhi Capitals has been reaping the benefits of a splendid auction. The first match saw Capitals’ World Cup-winning captains — Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma — score 72 off 43 and 84 off 45, respectively, while Marizanne Kapp and Jemimah Rodrigues chipped in with 39 and 22, helping DC reach 223.
With its middle-order in good form, DC piled on big scores in its game against UP Warriorz, despite Shafali falling early to Tahlia McGrath, with Rodrigues, Alice Capsey and Jess Jonassen helping the side post a 200-plus total for the second successive time.
However, DC batters failed to sustain their momentum in their last match against Mumbai as a near-perfect bowling attack, led by the experienced spinner Saika Ishaque, did not allow them to capitalise on a good start given by Lanning. Ishaque took three wickets and received ample support from another spinner, Hayley Matthews, who helped bundle out DC for 105.
It is safe to say quality spin is an issue for the Capitals, and Gujarat’s bowlers would want to capitalise on that.
On the bowling front, the availability of USA pacer Tara Norris not only helps DC field five overseas players, making use of the WPL’s policy, but also gives it an edge.
Norris got a five-for in her first game, helping DC emerge victorious in its first match against RCB. In the following matches, however, experienced hands such as Shikha Pandey, Kapp, and Jonassen provided DC with crucial breakthroughs.
The Giants, meanwhile, will hope for a good show from its bowlers against DC because a win on Saturday would mean they are well on their way to the playoffs, despite losing two of their previous three matches.
As for DC, it may be an opportunity for the home girl Jemimah Rodrigues to get the big scores she has been building towards to close the gap with first-placed Mumbai Indians.
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