WPL 2023: Amelia Kerr, bowlers bring Mumbai Indians back on track
RCB ended their WPL campaign with another loss, finishing their campaign with only two wins
If Mumbai Indians (MI) didn’t have the dangling carrot of direct qualification for Sunday’s final, their face-off against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) – already out of running for the playoffs – on Tuesday in Navi Mumbai, would have passed without many taking notice.
But in the final afternoon fixture of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), MI also had to arrest a further slide in form by preventing a hat-trick of losses. The RCB bowlers didn’t allow MI to boost their net run-rate on a slowish track but at least the four-wicket win brought back smiles to their dug-out. MI’s chased down RCB's 125/9 in 16.3 overs but there was a stutter in the middle and they will want to address that.
At the Brabourne and DY Patil stadium, the pitches have increasingly begun to assist slow bowlers and MI’s bowling unit made the most of it. The spinners did all the early damage and medium pacers – Nat Sciver-Brunt (4-0-24-2) and Issy Wong (4-0-26-2) smartly used their mix-ups at the death.
MI SPINNERS IN RACE FOR PURPLE CAP
The three MI spinners Amelia Kerr, Saika Ishaque (13 wickets each) and Hayley Matthews (12 wickets)are ranked two, three and four behind Sophie Ecclestone in the race for the purple cap. Together, they showed the way.
Ishaque (4-0-31-1) got herself back amongst the wickets after three wicket-less games. Matthews bowled an economical spell of 4-0-18-0. It was Kerr (4-0-23-3) who did the most damage with a skillful display.
The first of the Kiwi spinner’s wickets was the smartest. Smriti Mandhana, looking to find some late form had successfully played out three overs of Matthews’ off-spin. With so much focus on her weakness against off-spin, a momentary loss of focus may have occurred. Kerr after a few leg-spinners, floated a wrong'un, short, that Mandhana (24) played a lazy pull shot too, and ended up lobbing it to the wicket-keeper’s gloves.
Heather Knight (12) was the next to go; Kerr deceived her with a beautifully flighted leg break which ended in the hands of the fielder at long on. Soon enough, Kanika Ahuja became Kerr’s third victim. In a typical left-hander’s dismissal against leg-spin, Kerr from around the wicket drew Ahuja (12) out of the crease and floated a googly wide to have her stumped.
From 78/4, with MI bowlers having a firm grip on the match, RCB were in trouble. Sophie Devine, after the heroics of the previous match, was run-out off the third ball of the innings. Richa Ghosh with her cameo 29 (13b,3x4,2x6) reminded her team's thinktank of how underutilised she was through the tournament.
With 6 more runs to play with and four wickets to get, Mandhana ended up bowling the final over of the day. It summed up their season -- how the star-studded RCB that made the biggest buys at the auction but towards the end had no punches left to throw.