After the conclusion of league stage of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), three teams managed to reach the knockouts - Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz - with the Capitals already in the final. And, at the DY Patil Stadium on Friday, UP Warriorz will square off against Mumbai Indians in the eliminator with the hope of setting up a summit clash against the Capitals on Sunday.
Even a few days ago, not many thought that Mumbai Indians would miss out on a spot in the final after five consecutive wins. The team then lost to UP Warriorz and Capitals in two successive games, thereby slipping in the points table in terms of Net Run Rate. That eventually paved the way for Delhi Capitals’ flourish.
But when Harmanpreet Kaur leads her team for the eliminator against Alyssa Healy’s UP Warriorz, she would expect more from the seasoned campaigners. So far in the tournament, Mumbai has banked on its captain, Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Amelia Kerr, while the uncapped spinner Saika Ishaque has been the flavour of the season, with 13 wickets in her kitty.
Mumbai Indians hasn’t shuffled its playing XI much, so it is highly unlikely that it would change the squad for the key game, unless there are any injury concerns. But it would be interesting to see whether both the teams tweak their strategies a bit given the tired pitches.
Though UP Warriorz has enough depth in its batting, with Grace Harris and Sophie Ecclestone bolstering the middle-order, the spectators would be hoping for a duel between Ecclestone, who has been one of the genuine match-winners for the UP outfit, and Ishaque. Though the Kolkata-based uncapped Ishaque has gone wicket-less in three of her last four outings, she remains a key player in Mumbai’s bowling department. It will be a challenge for her to take things in stride and make every opportunity count.
After featuring in two high-intensity games at the Brabourne Stadium, Warriorz need to adapt to the conditions at the DY Patil Stadium, where a majority of wickets have fallen to spin bowling. In such a challenging situation, the focus will once again be on the middle-order, which has so far amassed 663 runs in the tournament with in-form Harris, Tahlia McGrath and Ecclestone around.
For the Warrioz, opening has been a bit of a bother as Healy has failed to get going in the last few outings and, despite multiple opportunities, young Shweta Sehrawat and Kiran Navgire have faltered.
But as the tournament reaches the fag end, it’s an opportunity for the youngsters from both the teams to rise to the big occasion and emerge as match-winners.
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