Women's T20 Challenge: Smriti's Trailblazers takes on Mithali's Velocity

After its win in the first contest, Trailblazers will be keen for another fine show on Wednesday.

Mithali Raj at a training session in Jaipur on Tuesday. Photo: V. V. Krishnan

The elections held here on Monday meant there was little publicity for the Women's T20 Challenge. Yet, in what was an encouraging sign, some 5,000 people turned up to watch the inaugural match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

They made a lot of noise, too.

The atmosphere wasn't anything like the one 10 days ago, when Rajasthan Royals played its last home match in the IPL this season — against Sunrisers Hyderabad — here. But nobody expected it to be so.

Exciting cricket

The crowd witnessed some excellent cricket, too. A brilliant 90 from the Smriti Mandhana, the stylish left-hand batter, and some astonishingly aggressive batting from Harmanpreet Kaur were the highlights. Smriti's innings proved to be the difference in the contest, as Trailblazers defeated Supernovas by two runs.

Trailblazers must be hoping for another fine show on Wednesday when it takes on the third team in the competition — Velocity — in the second match.

Among those who shone for Trailblazers on Monday were Harleen Deol with the bat, and Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Jhulan Goswami with the ball. The stars who couldn't make much of an impact — such as Suzie Bates and Stafanie Taylor — will be keen to make amends.

The team will also be keen to improve its catching.

Hot weather

For Velocity, the contest on Wednesday will be the first of two matches to be played consecutively. It will be interesting to see how Mithali Raj's team copes up with the rigours, especially given the fact that its first contest will have to be played under the scorching sun — the temperature hovers around 40 degrees Celcius here.

Besides Mithali, Velocity has other fine batsmen in Danielle Wyatt, Amelia Kerr and Hayley Matthews. The bowling looks good too, with the presence of Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, Jahanara Alam and Kerr.

The match starts at 3.30 p.m., and will be aired on Star Sports and Hotstar.

The teams (from)

Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (c), Bharti Fulmali, D. Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Jasia Akhtar, Jhulan Goswami, R Kalpana (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shakera Selman, Sophie Ecclestone, Stafanie Taylor and Suzie Bates.

Velocity: Mithali Raj (c), Amelia Kerr, Danielle Wyatt, Devika Vaidya, Ekta Bisht, Hayley Matthews, Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh), Komal Zhanzad, Shafali Verma, Shikha Pandey, Sushma Verma, Sushree Dibyadarshini and Veda Krishnamurthy.


                                        Devine: Left too much for the end

Sophine Devine is disappointed that her team, Supernovas, lost to Trailblazers after coming so close.

“I thought we left it little bit too much for later at the end there,” the New Zealand all-rounder said.

“I thought to make 30 off the last three overs on a pitch that was a little bit tricky was asking a bit too much. But, Harmanpreet can do those sort of things, and she took us very close to (what would have been) a great win.”

Devine said it was nice to see play on the same side as the hard-hitting Indian batter. “We’ve got nightmares of her just smashing us all around the park and, knocking us out of the World Cup,” she said.

“She’s a fantastic player and it’s awesome to be on her side.”

She said it was great to play before a noisy crowd. “Yeah, I thought it was fantastic,” she said. “I have just been told that it was the election day here in Rajasthan, so to have that amount of support was excellent. They certainly made a lot of noise, which was fantastic feeling in the middle of the field.”

Devine is impressed with India’s domestic players. “All the overseas players are really impressed,” she said.

“One thing in particular — although maybe not in this game — is the catching. The fielding, I think is an area where Indian cricket has come along leaps and bounds. The last couple of series we’ve seen that they’ve been fantastic in the field.”

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