It’s not every day that one gets to see Meg Lanning coming up in the post-match presentation as the losing captain.
Lanning might be the architect of many a nightmare international game for Harmanpreet Kaur but on Thursday, Kaur’s Mumbai Indians (MI) stunned Delhi Capitals (DC) with a commanding eight-wicket win at the DY Patil Stadium here.
In a tournament featuring pitches that have been largely batter-friendly, MI made full use of a slightly dry wicket despite losing the toss.
“I am not someone who depends a lot on toss,” Harmanpreet said after Lanning opted to bat first. Going into the game with an unchanged XI, Harmanpreet’s matchups were set. After starting with Nat Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet brought in Saika Ishaque, the Purple Cap holder, to try and unsettle Orange Cap holder Lanning early on.
Shafali Verma fell immediately, after reading an inward bound delivery from Ishaque all wrong. Mumbai placed a stranglehold on the run flow, using Issy Wong and Ishaque in tandem to restrict Lanning to the crease.
Tight lines offered her no space to free her arms, a contrast to her 360-degree hitting template in this tournament. Alice Capsey was promoted ahead of Marizanne Kapp but neither could make much of a difference to the score or steady the Delhi innings.
Lanning managed to stitch a crucial 50-run stand for the fourth wicket with Jemimah Rodrigues. However, the Indian batter misread Ishaque, holding back to try and time the ball better but missing and losing her off-stump in the process.
Ishaque had to wait, but eventually got the player she was deployed for, in one of the softest dismissals. Lanning didn’t connect with a fuller delivery from the left-arm spinner and holed out to Harmanpreet at extra-cover. That snuffed out the momentum from Delhi’s innings with the side painfully crawling to 105 before being bowled out with two overs to spare.
Chasing just 106 to win from 120 balls, Yastika Bhatia - who has had a quiet WPL campaign so far with 24 runs in two games - took the onus of finishing the game as soon as possible. She struck two back-to-back boundaries off Kapp’s opening over to set the tone for the response.
Shikha Pandey tried to stem any early momentum, giving away just six runs off her first over. Kapp’s next one was far more disciplined, full and veering just outside off stump, trying to tempt either of the two to try and produce an edge. Matthews, who had a brilliant day with the ball, taking three wickets for just 19 runs, stuck three consecutive fours off Pandey’s second over to up the pace of the chase.
Tara Norris and Capsey took the only two wickets that fell for Mumbai, with Yastika falling lbw for 41 and Matthews dismissed courtesy a stunner of a catch at long-off from a diving Jemimah. Sciver-Brunt, unbeaten on 23, finished the game with an aerial shot over mid-on for four, with Harmanpreet, unbeaten on 11, watching from the best seat in the house.
In the end, Mumbai Indians played much like Australia does at the international level and no one will feel the burn of that sting more than Lanning.
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