UP Warriorz was reeling at 39 for 3 after five overs, in pursuit of Gujarat Giants’ 178-6, when Grace Harris (72, 41b, 7x4, 4x6) walked in. With her compatriot Tahlia McGrath (57, 38b, 11x4) at the other end, Harris had the daunting task of rebuilding the innings.
The duo once again lived up to the expectations at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday and forged a crucial 78-run stand, paving the way for a three-wicket Warriorz’ win and ensuring a spot in the Women’s Premier League playoffs.
While this victory meant the end of the road for Gujarat Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore, McGrath and Harris once again proved why they are considered vital cogs in the Warriorz’ wheels.
After putting up a mammoth total, riding on half-centuries by Dayalan Hemalatha and Ashleigh Gardner, the Giants bowlers provided the team with a perfect start, dismissing Warriorz captain Alyssa Healy, Kiran Navgire and Devika Vaidya inside the Powerplay. But, the Aussie duo ensured that there were no further slip-ups. Dealing in boundaries, both Harris and McGrath scored their fifties in style as the Giants bowlers slowly lost their grip over the game.
With 62 needed from 39 deliveries, McGrath attempted to hit Ashleigh Gardner over the long off but was caught by Sneh Rana in the fourth delivery of the 14th over. Though Harris took the pressure off with a couple of fours in the next over, bowled by Rana, Warriorz suffered a blow as Deepti Sharma failed to get going and was caught by Gardner.
The target was still 49 runs away, with just 30 balls remaining. But Harris - known for her heroics against the same opponent in the tournament opener - kept her cool and brought up another half-century with a boundary. She rebuilt the innings with Sophie Ecclestone (19 n.o., 13b, 2x4) and brought the team to the cusp of victory with a four and six of Kim Barth in the 19th over, before being caught by Harleen Deol.
The Warriorz needed seven off the final over, and a calm Ecclestone sealed it with a boundary, with a ball to spare. As she jumped in joy and tossed her bat in the air, there was a pall of gloom in the Giants dugout.
Despite starting aggressively after winning the toss and batting first, the Gujarat outfit lost momentum.
It raced away to 41 in four overs, with Sophia Dunkley and Laura Wolvaardt slamming boundaries at will. But it lost three wickets in the powerplay, but eventually bounced back with a 93-run partnership between Gardner and Hemalatha.
The talented Hemalatha brought up her fifty in just 30 balls with a six off Deepti, before falling off Parshavi Chopra, who claimed a couple of couple wickets. But even after Hemalatha’s departure, Gardner stayed on and breached the 50-run mark in just 35 balls with a boundary off Deepti. However, Gardner’s innings was cut short by Parshavi as the Giants failed to go past 180.
Though its bowlers gave the Giants some hope with early strikes, as the game progressed, those efforts were not enough to save the team from crashing out of the tournament.
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