Mumbai Indians beat Delhi Capitals by 7 wickets, win inaugural WPL
MI recover from an early wobble chasing a modest target against DC with skipper Harmanpreet and Nat Sciver-Brunt guiding the chase in the final at Brabourne Stadium
Mumbai Indians etched their name in the history book on Sunday by becoming the first champions of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) here on Sunday. Led by India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, MI edged out Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in a thriller to cap a memorable first edition of the long-awaited T20 tournament.
It was a sight to behold as most stands at the Brabourne Stadium were packed. A full-fledged Indian T20 league for women, a final between the two best teams in the league, some of the biggest stars taking the field, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma’s MI side as well as BCCI’s top brass in attendance, the electric energy of the fans, and a last-over finish. It was a night to cherish for every supporter of women’s cricket who, for years, had hoped this would become a reality.
Harmanpreet had a momentous outing in more ways than one. After losing as captain in finals against Meg Lanning’s Australia teams at the 2020 T20 World Cup and 2022 Commonwealth Games, she got one back with her own fine performance.
After being asked to bowl and restricting DC to 131/9, MI finished with 134/3 in 19.3 overs. Early on in their chase, Mumbai were in a spot of bother at 23/2, but Harmanpreet (37 off 39 balls) and Nat Sciver-Brunt (60* off 55b) showed their big-game temperament by adding a match-winning 72-run stand for the third wicket.
Opener Yastika Bhatia hit a four but sent the next ball, a full toss by Radha Yadav, to the fielder in the deep. Hayley Matthews hit three confident boundaries but fell to Jess Jonassen. Delhi conceded just a single each in the sixth and seventh overs, and would’ve fancied their chances at that point.
Harmanpreet and Sciver-Brunt though remained unfazed and put on a calculated stand. They took their time to settle down and played many dot balls. But once they got their eye in, they began picking boundaries. Mumbai were 95/2 after 16 overs when Harmanpreet was run out. They needed 36 off 24 balls and DC would still have believed they had a good chance. But Sciver-Brunt and Amelia Kerr (14* off 8b) closed out the chase with three balls to spare.
It was another phenomenal knock by Sciver-Brunt. The 30-year-old was Player-of-the-Match in the eliminator for her unbeaten 72 and again she bagged the award by showing her class with exquisite strokeplay all around the park.
Earlier, Shikha Pandey and Radha Yadav, in at No 8 and 11 respectively, formed the last batting pair for DC but deserve a mention first. With their team tottering at 79/9 after 16 overs, the duo added an unbeaten 52-run stand – the highest on the night for Delhi. While Pandey (27* off 17) began the mini fightback, Yadav (27* off 12) ended the innings with consecutive sixes. Eventually, it was this valiant partnership that allowed the final to be a competitive affair.
DC’s early wobble
It was a frenetic start to the game as Delhi, the strongest in the five-team tournament in terms of powerplay batting, lost two wickets in the second over. Once again, it was Issy Wong who turned it Mumbai’s way with the ball.
The 20-year-old pacer from England claimed the first WPL hat-trick, in the eliminator against UP Warriorz. This time, her bowling perhaps wasn’t as impressive, but was good enough to put MI in the driver’s seat.
Wong went on to finish with 3/42, and remarkably all her wickets came off full tosses. Shafali Verma hit a six and a four before miscuing one and getting caught. It was a high full toss and the third umpire took a while to make the decision, but it went Mumbai’s way. The in-form Alice Capsey was dismissed with a similar high full toss before Jemimah Rodrigues drove a low one to point.
DC were reduced to 35/3 in 4.2 overs and had their most experienced pair in Meg Lanning and Marizanne Kapp at the crease. They put on a 38-run partnership but MI stormed back in the contest by picking the next six wickets for just six runs.
A huge moment in the innings came when Lanning was run out for 35 off 29 in the 12th over. The Australian had held fort as wickets tumbled at the other end but a mix-up with compatriot Jonassen led to her departure.
Matthews bowled a sensational spell of 3/5 and Kerr was solid with 2/18. Not only was the bowling disciplined, MI even produced high class fielding with young Amanjot Kaur leading the way.