On the 4th of March, an almost full-packed crowd witnessed everything. Bollywood stars and their performances, followed by their very own stars’ entertaining innings.
Mumbai Indians lit the stage on fire. Harmanpreet Kaur was the torch bearer with a scintillating half-century. With the ball, an uncapped 27-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner Saika Ishaque trounced Gujarat Giants batters and ended up with a spectacular spell of 4/11.
The home girls won by a massive 143 runs, the biggest margin of defeat in a major Women’s T20 league. Hmmm! Doesn’t this remind of a particular opener in 2008? Oh yes of course! Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered a 140-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders in the first-ever IPL game.
It is just the start folks. In the fourth match, two Indian superstars will tussle against each other. In the blue corner, Harmanpreet leads Mumbai, and in the red corner, Smriti Mandhana is at the helm for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In any case, Bangalore suffered a shocker in their first game. But, to their glory, it wasn’t as bad as Gujarat. After conceding 223 runs while bowling first, all they could do is bear a 60-run defeat. At one point in time, it looked even more horrible for them in the chase.
However, Megan Schutt and Heather Knight forged a 54-run partnership for the eighth wicket, when they were tottering at 7/96.
It was a complete failure from their bowling department. Their most experienced bowlers, Renuka Singh, Megan Schutt, or Ellyse Perry, couldn’t contribute. The two wickets that fell belonged to Heather Knight, a bowler who hasn’t rolled her arms for a long time.
With the kind of players they have in their armoury, Bangalore certainly can make a comeback. But, they will be up against a high-flying team.
Things to watch out for
Schutt and Perry’s impressive record against Mumbai batters
Both these two bowlers were ineffective against Delhi batters in their first match. Schutt went wicket-less in her four overs by conceding 11.25 runs/over, and Perry had an economy of 9.7 in her three-over wicket-less spell.
But, to their joy, they will be happy to bowl against a batting line-up that is filled with their bunnies. In all W-T20s (recorded), among batters who have faced 15+ balls against these two bowlers, none of Mumbai's batters have an average of above 25. Only Chloe Tryon, has a strike rate of over 100.
Perry has the better of Harman and Nat Sciver-Brunt. She has dismissed both these batters five times and Harman averages 15 and Sciver averages 19.1 against her. On the other hand, Schutt has a sensational record against Amelia Kerr. In 10 innings, she has dismissed her five times, and Kerr averages only six.
Despite having off days, a lot will depend on these bowlers, and why not? These are the three batters who rattled Gujarat in the first match.
Mumbai’s acceleration in the middle overs
In the first six overs, Mumbai had scored only 44 runs after losing Yastika Bhatia. But, it was in the middle overs (7-15) that won them the game.
Between overs 7-10, their batters managed to score only 33 runs. Adding to that, they lost two wickets in this phase as well. Then came an explosion of runs. Between overs 11-15, they scored 68 runs at a run rate of 13.5. In these five overs phase, they had hit 14 boundaries (all fours), at 2.1 balls per boundary ratio.
Overall, Mumbai scored 101 runs in the middle overs at a run rate of 11.2. They had hit 16 boundaries and three sixes. A boundary was witnessed every 2.8 balls in these nine overs. Harman (223.8), Kerr (178.6) and Hayley Matthews (200), all had a strike rate of over 170.
Can Yastika Bhatia up the ante?
Each and every Mumbai batters were able to make a mark in their first game, apart from Yastika. In her eight deliveries, she scored only one run, a strike rate of 12.5. Every other Mumbai batter struck above 125.
It is just not the previous match, even in her W-T20I career, she has had problems at the start of her innings. In her first 10 balls, Yastika has scored at a strike rate of 65.2. Among the top nine team batters who have faced 10+ innings in their early stages, Yastika’s strike rate of 65.2 is the third worst.
Pitch and conditions
It has been batting friendly wickets alright, but only in the first innings. In the first two matches, in both the venues, captains thought it would get better to bat on in the second innings and chose to bowl. However, it backfired.
Coming back to Brabourne, again it is going to be a belter of a wicket. However, the record in night games has been different as compared to day games. Though Bangalore lost while chasing, the Brabourne usually favours the teams batting second in day games. In W-T20Is, teams chasing have won five out of seven.
In any case, the records are contrasting in night games. In all three games, teams batting first have owned the game. While batting first, teams have scored at a run rate of 9.3 and an average of 37.1. Whereas, teams chasing, have scored at a run rate of 7.9 and have averaged 21.5.
-Kerr is one of the best when it comes to bowling googlies. In W-T20Is since 2022, six out of her 19 wickets have come through this delivery type. Though the wicket percentage isn’t that high, her average and strike rate has been exceptional. Her six googly wickets have come at an average of 11 and a strike rate of 11.2. In the first match as well, her two wickets were from googlies.
-Smriti will be the key batter against Kerr. In the aforementioned time, since 2022, Smriti has scored at a strike rate of 179.2 against leg spinners. In nine innings she has been only dismissed once. Her strike rate of 179.2 is the best for her against a bowling type. Among batters who have faced 30+ against leg spinners in this time, only Talihia McGrath (191.3) and Beth Mooney (179.4) have a better strike rate.
With a win on their back, Mumbai are unlikely to tinker with their combination, and why would they when every player contributed to their win.
Mumbai Probable XI: Yastika Bhatia (wk), Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Isabelle Wong, Humaira Kazi, Amanjot Kaur, Jintimani Kalita, Saika Ishaque
There won’t be any changes in the batting order of Bangalore. The only change that we might see is Sahana Pawar getting a game ahead of Asha Sobhana.
Bangalore Probable XI: Smriti Mandhana (c), Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Disha Kasat, Richa Ghosh, Heather Knight, Kanika Ahuja, Asha Sobhana/Sahana Pawar, Megan Schutt, Preeti Bose, Renuka Singh