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Charged Capitals eye inaugural WPL trophy against revitalized Mumbai

article_imageWPL FINAL PREVIEW
Last updated on 25 Mar 2023 | 09:40 AM
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Charged Capitals eye inaugural WPL trophy against revitalized Mumbai

It is a fitting battle of the top two sides, as Mumbai and Delhi take each other on in the inaugural WPL final

Mumbai is a hustling city. You are almost guaranteed to see people running around at anytime of the day. Just close your eyes and picture the city, it is natural for your memories of the city to have ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’ as the background music.

The city is for the hustlers, and if anything over the last three weeks, both Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals have hustled way and beyond, en route to the final. For Delhi, they had to first recover from their crushing defeat against Mumbai. Once they did that, they had to convincingly go past the same opposition later to seal a place in the final.

Delhi thrived under the pressure and stood true to their motto, ‘Roar Macha’, and they have done more than a roar in the competition. They have arguably looked like a set unit from the word go, and a lot of their success would definitely be attributed to their skipper, Meg Lanning.

On Sunday, on the other end of the pitch would be Harmanpreet Kaur and her Mumbai Indians unit. After a busy clash on Friday against UP Warriorz, there was little room for Mumbai to celebrate lavishly. Their biggest task and their biggest competitors – Delhi – await them in the final.

For Harmanpreet, this win would mean the world, considering the umpteen number of times she has failed in front of Lanning.

Things to watch out for

Delhi would pray that their top-order clicks again

To beat Mumbai, you need to be at your A-game and need to pray that none of your weak links get tested. Delhi have more than a weak link, they have a non-existent batting line-up outside their top six. Taniya Bhatia has rarely been tasked to hit a long ball under pressure, and that goes all the way down the order.

In short, Delhi need their top-order to fire yet again. Both in terms of runs and intent – Delhi have the perfect top three in Shafali Verma, Lanning and Alice Capsey. The trio average 39.6 and strike at 161.3, leaving no stone unturned. But they will yet again have to shoulder the responsibility and take the onus of preventing their middle-order from getting exposed against a strong Mumbai bowling unit.

Issy Wong recovers her mojo

Prior to the last match, if there was one small concern for the Mumbai unit, it would have been the indifferent form of Issy Wong. On her day, the right-arm speedster is a match-winner on her own – both with the bat and the ball. But in a side that just had Pooja Vastrakar back after recovering from an injury, a lot of the bowling responsibility was on Wong’s shoulders.

She roared and roared in fine fashion when put up under the pump against Alyssa Healy during their clash on Friday. Against Shafali and Lanning, Mumbai could yet again rely on the English international to provide a fiery start with her throttling pace.

Also Read: Issy Wong, as fast as Lightning McQueen

Not just that, Harmanpreet would now hope that the Chelsea-born star puts on a show yet again in the middle overs as Mumbai aim for dominance.

Delhi need to stop Nat Sciver-Brunt

Sophie Ecclestone dropped Nat Sciver-Brunt when she was on six. And the rest is history. Delhi would have definitely watched the match and more. Lanning has first-hand experienced the wrath of Sciver-Brunt, not once but twice in the 2022 ODI World Cup.

Against UP, the right-hander showed her prowess and destructive ability all at once. With Harmanpreet Kaur not firing on all cylinders after a stellar opener to the season and Hayley Matthews facing a struggle of her own, the impetus would be on Sciver-Brunt.

In the first six overs, Mumbai’s No.3 plays a huge chunk of her false shot (34.2%) and getting her out to the crease as soon as possible could be Delhi’s ultimate ploy. Marizanne Kapp would be instrumental if Delhi are to win the title.

Marizanne’s impact, no Kapp

It is the big-match, and if Nat Sciver-Brunt is a big-match player for the Mumbai side, then Marizanne Kapp is Delhi’s match-winner. A lot has changed over the last 12 months for Kapp, including the untimely retirement of her partner, Dane van Niekerk. Despite the trickling emotions, Kapp has always ensured that her performance has never gotten affected.

No player has had a bigger impact than her with the ball in the powerplay, with eight wickets, averaging just 13.1.

Pitch and conditions

Typically, Brabourne has been a graveyard for the bowlers, with an average first-innings score of 169. But the last game at the venue, the clash between UP Warriorz and Delhi Capitals saw an aggregate score of just 280. Considering that this is a big match, there is a strong possibility that that wicket will play home to a high-scoring thriller.

Spinners are far more valuable in these conditions than their pace counterparts, with 67 wickets, in comparison to 35 wickets. On the surfaces here, pacers, on an average, have picked 3.3 wickets/innings.

Tactical Nous

-        Mumbai are most likely going to attack Shafali Verma with the raw pace of Issy Wong and Nat Sciver-Brunt. But if they are considering bowling spinners to her, it might not be a very good ploy, with the opener scoring at a strike-rate of 175 against spin in the first ten balls. In the tournament, she has scored 91 runs, with an average of 30.33, and a strike-rate of 206.8, which only suggests: DON’T BOWL SPIN.

-        While Shafali doesn’t have a perceived weakness against spin, Harmanpreet has had a tough time against Jess Jonassen, a match-up that could well work out this time too. Across 14 innings, the left-arm spinner has dismissed Harman five times, with an average of 13.9 in WT20Is, the most any player has dismissed the right-hander.

Team Combination and Predicted XI

Given that it is a big game, Mumbai are expected to play an unchanged side, with Harmanpreet leading the side

Mumbai XI: Hayley Matthews, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Nat Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Issy Wong, Amanjot Kaur, Humaira Kazi, Jintimani Kalita, Saika Ishaque

On the other hand, Delhi might ponder a change, they might consider leaving out Poonam Yadav, for Tara Norris, or even Titas Sadhu.

Delhi XI: Meg Lanning (c), Shafali Verma, Alice Capsey, Jemimah Rodrigues, Marizanne Kapp, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Jess Jonassen, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav/Tara Norris

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