Sophia Dunkley, Harleen Deol dash powers Gujarat Giants to victory | Crickit

Sophia Dunkley, Harleen Deol dash powers Gujarat Giants to victory

By, Mumbai
Mar 09, 2023 12:27 AM IST

Smriti Mandhana-led RCB taste third defeat on the trot after another ordinary bowling performance

In a clash between teams that had lost their first two matches, it was Sophia Dunkley and Harleen Deol who stepped up for Gujarat Giants to hand Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) their third successive loss in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) on Wednesday.

Harleen Deol plays a shot during the Women's Premier League 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore(Gujarat Giants Twitter)
Harleen Deol plays a shot during the Women's Premier League 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore(Gujarat Giants Twitter)

Opting to bat first at the Brabourne Stadium, Gujarat posted a formidable total of 201/7 thanks to Dunkley (65 off 28) and Deol’s (67 off 45) contributions. New Zealand’s Sophie Devine put in a valiant effort and got a 45-ball 66 but it wasn’t enough as RCB finished with 190/6 to go down by 11 runs.

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Gujarat were dealt a massive blow in the tournament opener when skipper Beth Mooney limped off the field after twisting her ankle. The Australian left-hander, who won the player of the match award for her unbeaten 74 in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final recently, has reportedly been ruled out of the remainder of the WPL season, with South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt named as replacement by the Giants.

With big shoes to fill and the team having suffered consecutive defeats, Dunkley took the responsibility in style by hitting a half-century off just 18 deliveries—the joint fourth-fastest fifty in women’s T20 cricket.

Megan Schutt gave RCB a strong start with the ball by bowling a maiden over to S Meghana first up. But Dunkley quickly took over and manipulated the field smartly to pick up boundaries either side of the pitch. The English right-hander hit left-arm spinner Preeti Bose for four fours and a six in the fifth over to race to a stunning fifty.

Once Dunkley departed in the eighth over, with Gujarat comfortably placed at 82/2, it was Deol’s turn to take over. The Indian right-hander hadn’t been at her best in recent weeks and took her time to settle in. She made her way to 22 off 24 but that’s when she cut loose. Schutt was hit for a six and four and Deol went on to add 38 runs off just 16 balls.

For RCB, it was another forgettable outing with the ball. They had conceded 223/2 in their first match against Delhi Capitals, 159/1 in just 14.2 overs against Mumbai Indians and leaked more than 200 against Gujarat too.

After the MI defeat, head coach Ben Sawyer had said that the bowlers had “sprayed the ball pretty much everywhere.” And it was more of the same against Gujarat. They seemed to lack a real game plan and were hit round the park consistently.

In reply, RCB were off to a promising start in the chase as skipper Smriti Mandhana and Devine came to the crease with great intent. They brought up their fifty-run stand off just 27 deliveries as Devine smacked Aussie pacer Annabel Sutherland for a hat-trick of fours.

Mandhana, however, perished soon after for 18 off 14. The left-hander, who was the most expensive player in the WPL auction, perhaps erred in judgement by deciding to go after Australian off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner, the joint second-most expensive player at the auction, and miscued it to mid-on.

Ellyse Perry was in next and got a start but ended up cutting one from Mansi Joshi to point and perished for 32 off 25. Wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh hit a couple of fours but was cleaned-up by Gardner for a run-a-ball 10.

Devine struck some clean blows and kept RCB in the game but once she perished in the 17th over, it was Gujarat’s game to lose. England’s Heather Knight (30* off 11) and Shreyanka Patil (11* off 4) took the contest to the last over but Bangalore fell short.

Gardner showed her class and was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/31, ably supported by Tanuja Kanwar. The young left-arm spinner took the new ball, kept firing it in and finding her spots, and returned with economical figures of 0/28 in what was a high-scoring game.

The defeat put RCB in a precarious position. With only three teams to advance in the five-team competition, Mandhana and Co are left with nearly no room for error going forward.

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