WPL 2024: UP Warriorz mentor Lisa Sthalekar impressed with team’s fielding after narrow defeat to RCB

Hailing the improvement in the fielding standards, particularly of Indian domestic players, Lisa Sthalekar of UP Warriorz credited the inaugural edition of the WPL with giving them the exposure to the top level.

Published : Feb 25, 2024 13:17 IST , BENGALURU - 3 MINS READ

Vrinda Dinesh of UP Warriorz takes the catch to dismiss Smriti Mandhana of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Vrinda Dinesh of UP Warriorz takes the catch to dismiss Smriti Mandhana of Royal Challengers Bangalore. | Photo Credit: SPORTZPICS

Vrinda Dinesh of UP Warriorz takes the catch to dismiss Smriti Mandhana of Royal Challengers Bangalore. | Photo Credit: SPORTZPICS

The Women’s Premier League (WPL) has begun with a bang, with the first two games being decided off the final delivery. UP Warriorz came tantalisingly close but succumbed to a heroic spell from Asha Sobhana, who claimed five wickets to secure a stunning victory for Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.

Warriorz seemed to be in control, needing 32 runs off 24 deliveries with seven wickets in hand at one point. However, Smriti Mandhana’s decision to introduce Asha proved pivotal, as the 32-year-old snatched three wickets in an over, shifting the momentum.

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“The strategic time-out, when it was taken while both Shweta [Sehrawat] and Grace Harris were flying and the stop in the play allowed RCB to get back into the game and then losing those three wickets in that over. It makes a huge difference, especially considering the dismissal of Shweta and Grace, our two set batters, was the turning point,” remarked Warriorz mentor Lisa Sthalekar after the match.

Two Indian youngsters, Shweta Sehrawat and debutant Vrinda Dinesh, made notable contributions despite the team’s unsuccessful chase. While Sehrawat maintained a high tempo during her partnership with Grace Harris, Vrinda showcased excellent fielding skills.

“I was particularly impressed with our fielding efforts. Last year, we leaked too many runs, whereas in our first game, our fielders were sharp and switched on,” Sthalekar stated.

“It marks a significant improvement from the Indian domestic players. It has allowed franchises, including ours, to involve these players in camps and continuously challenge and nurture them. The crucial aspect was that these players got exposure to the top level in the inaugural season of WPL, enabling them to benchmark their performances. Not just with our team, but I’ve observed that every player has gone up a notch,” she added.

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Highlighting positives from the match, Sthalekar said, “For Vrinda, it was her first game playing in front of a home crowd. She might have felt nervous, but she still had that mindset to execute shots like the ramps. There are many positives that we’ll take from tonight’s game.”

Sthalekar had said that UPW’s mantra would be spin to win, and Asha’s performance, even though it came against her team, reinforced the importance of spinners in this situation.

“It turned much more in the second innings. The dew did not come in, and it was the used pitch from the previous night, so their spinners were able to extract a little more side spin. When the ball begins to move around, it becomes difficult to control and hard to score off. The spin has worked, and as a former spinner, I was delighted to see them dominate,” she stated. 

Poonam Khemnar, another debutant, impressed. After three quick wickets in the 17th over, Poonam hit three boundaries off Shreyanka Patil and Georgia Wareham, almost taking Warriorz home.

“She played to her strengths, and that’s what we’ve been telling the players to do: back up their skill sets. Just follow through on your preparations. But sometimes you have to fail before you succeed, so there will undoubtedly be a few players who have learned some lessons along the way, and I look forward to seeing them adjust and tinker slightly to ensure that they make the right decisions the next time they find themselves in a similar situation,” she concluded.

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