The highly anticipated clash between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, the two unbeaten sides in the Women’s Premier League, ended up being more one-sided than expected.
Mumbai Indians’ balance held it in good stead, but it was a well-thought-out strategy to keep the league’s top scorer - Meg Lanning- quiet that helped Mumbai blunt an explosive Delhi batting unit.
Mumbai skipper Harmanpreet Kaur is spoilt for choice as far as bowling is concerned, with a versatile spin department being one of her trump cards. She deployed left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque and paired her with Issy Wong’s pace to target the Delhi openers, particularly Lanning.
Saika’s first over helped Mumbai scalp two early wickets. Shafali Verma misread a delivery and lost her stumps, while Lanning was rooted to the crease after having no room to place the ball and score.
Wong’s first over, which followed right after, made this worse for Lanning. The England international stuck to fuller deliveries but tightened the line to deny the Aussie skipper any room.
Wickets tumbling at the other end helped Mumbai add pressure on Lanning, who, despite the difficulties, made 43. The decision to bring Alice Capsey at no.3 instead of Marizanne Kapp did not work, and the Delhi middle order, barring Jemimah Rodrigues, crumbled before Mumbai’s bowling.
Rodrigues’ smart running between the wickets and ability to pick the gaps gave Lanning and Delhi respite around the eighth over. However, Saika removed the pair in the space of five deliveries - first deceiving Jemimah with a back-of-length ball that went past her bat and knocked her off stump, and then forcing Lanning, who came down the track to try and go aerial over extra cover, to hole out to Harman instead.
“I haven’t bowled to Meg too much, but when we played together in the WBBL, we would often speak of two points. She is obviously strong in those areas but also gives up chances. The ball was swinging a bit under the lights too, so it made sense to play to those strengths,” Wong said after the game.
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Lanning credited the Mumbai bowlers after the loss.
“I take a bit of the blame because I took a few balls at the start and could not capitalise. There was certainly something in it for the bowlers, which is a good thing. It held a little more than the other tracks we have played on. You can’t go out there and look at 180 right from the start. You get yourself into a bit of trouble if you do that. It was not our best day. We gave it a crack, lots to learn,” she told broadcasters after the match.
Mumbai is the only team to take all 30 wickets (well 29, as Mooney was retired hurt) from the three games it has played so far and has managed to find success with the ball even on the most batting-friendly surfaces. It will hope to keep the gains coming.