Mumbai, Mar 25 (PTI) Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s form is a huge concern as Mumbai Indians look to cap their superb Women’s Premier League season (WPL) by defeating Meg Lanning’s Delhi Capitals in the final of the inaugural edition of the tournament here on Sunday.
After three half centuries earlier on in the tournament, form has deserted the India skipper, and, had it not been for Nat Sciver-Brunt’s unbeaten 72 in the Eliminator against UP Warriorz on Friday, the script of the tournament could have been different.
With Harmanpreet managing just 14 runs in the Eliminator, things could have gone downhill for the Mumbai franchise, but luckily Nat Sciver made the most of the dropped catch to make a mockery of the Warriorz bowling.
Australian stalwart Meg Lanning though could exploit Harmanpreet’s poor run with the bat to go all out even though Delhi Capitals will be playing in front of a partisan crowd at the Brabourne Stadium.
Delhi Capitals, after starting sedately, gradually moved up the points table and finally managed to displace Mumbai Indians at the top, thanks mainly to the performance of Lanning — the leader of the batting charts — and allrounder Marizanne Kapp.
Still, it would be futile to pick the favourite as both teams have been ruthless, clinical, dominant — and unsuccessful — at various stages in the tournament.
Delhi and Mumbai have recorded heavy wins against each other in the group stage and finished with identical 12 points, with only the net run rate separating them at the top of the table.
Mumbai Indians stamped their authority first by thrashing Delhi Capitals by nine-wicket, but the latter returned the favour, scoring an identical win.
Going by their record at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai Indians have the upper hand, having won all three games so far, while Delhi have two wins and a loss at the venue.
With Harmanpreet’s form a concern, Nat Sciver could step up and play another of her mesmerising knocks, which saw her clobber UP Warriorz bowlers all around the park in the Eliminator on Friday.
With the third-highest number of runs (272), two half centuries, an enviable average of 54.40 and 10 wickets in nine games, Nat Sciver is one of the best all-rounders on show here. The England cricketer has, time and again, given commanding performances, and it will be hard for Delhi Capitals to stop the devastating batter in the summit clash.
Nat Sciver has been most destructive with the bat in the last five overs in WPL, something that the UP Warriorz found out on Friday night when she helped MI add 66 runs in the final five overs.
Another Mumbai Indians allrounder Hayley Matthews (258 runs, 13 wickets in nine matches) has blown hot and cold of late but remains a vital cog in the team’s line-up, while Yastika Bhatia will look to take a fearless approach with the bat again.
With two more wickets, Mumbai’s Saika Ishaque (15) could finish as the WPL’s highest wicket-taker ahead of UPW’s Sophie Ecclestone (16). With the likes of Isabelle Wong (13 wickets) and Amelia Kerr (12) in their ranks, Mumbai Indians will hope for another good outing with the ball.
Lanning though would like to add the inaugural WPL trophy to her cabinet after winning the T20 World Cup in South Africa recently for a record-extending fifth time. Mumbai Indians cannot wish away the Australia captain, the WPL’s top-scorer with 310 runs (average 51.66), including two half centuries.
Delhi have had their share of highs and lows but Lanning’s captaincy, combined with an incredible all-round show from Marizanne Kapp (159 runs, 9 wickets in eight matches), has been the highlight for them. Alice Capsey’s power-hitting in the middle overs can also make a strong dent.
While Delhi will once again back overseas stars to come good, their hopes will also be pinned on Indian stars Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Shikha Pandey and Radha Yadav.
Squads (from): Delhi Capitals: Meg Lanning (c), Jemimah Rodrigues (vc), Shafali Verma, Alice Capsey, Radha Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Marizanne Kapp, Titas Sadhu, Laura Harris, Tara Norris, Jasia Akhtar, Minnu Mani, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Poonam Yadav, Jess Jonassen, Sneha Deepthi, Arundhati Reddy, Aparna Mondal.
Mumbai Indians: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Nat Sciver-Brunt, Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Heather Graham, Isabelle Wong, Amanjot Kaur, Dhara Gujjar, Saika Ishaque, Hayley Matthews, Chloe Tryon, Humaira Kazi, Komal Zanzad, Priyanka Bala, Sonam Yadav, Neelam Bisht, Jintamani Kalita.
Time: 7:30PM IST.
Source: PTI News