Aakash Sivasubramaniam
23 Mar 2023 | 01:03 PM

Mumbai need to move the immovable force in Warriorz

A week ago, Mumbai wouldn’t have dreamt of playing this clash handsomely sitting at the top of the table

“Ek dam se waqt badal diye jazbaat badal diye zindagi badal di,” if that doesn’t sum up Mumbai’s season, none would ever sum it up.

A week ago, Mumbai Indians were handsomely at the top of the table, with no loss in the tournament. But then they collided with a dominant force in the form of UP Warriorz, who ultimately turned Mumbai’s season upside down.

Now, they are battling it to make it to the final and it is the familiar figure of the Warriorz in front of them. At Harmanpreet and co’s expense, Delhi Capitals have found themselves a place in the final. All in just one week, the turnaround time of the tournament is rapid.

Mumbai’s batting has been exposed twice in two games, and if not for the all-round brilliance from Amelia Kerr, chances are that they could have succumbed to three losses in a row, something that no one would have predicted at the start of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) campaign.

Things to watch out for

How will Mumbai fare the Sophie test?

One of Mumbai's biggest challenges would be tackling the four overs from Sophie Ecclestone. The left-arm spinner, arguably the world’s best spinner, has been at her menacing best in the competition, and more often than not, teams have struggled big time against her. The last time Mumbai faced her, they were blown away by a stunning piece of bowling.

In that clash, Ecclestone returned with figures of 3/15, and contributed a valuable 16* with the bat. The fact that she can bowl across phases, including cutting down the run-flow in the middle-overs makes her a key factor in this clash. During the middle-over phase, the left-arm spinner averages 16.3, which further goes down to 9.5 at the death. On Criclytics weekly impact ranking, Ecclestone features first, with the highest bowling impact. 

Mumbai’s batting has had a tough run in the past three games, and if they fare the Sophie test well, then they should have a fair chance of winning this clash. 

The form of McGrath will give Harris a lot of confidence

Until one point in the tournament, UP Warriorz’ hope lied immensely on the shoulders of Grace Harris but then, Tahlia McGrath started to live up to her reputation. In seven innings, the right-hander has smacked 295 runs, averaging 59. Only Sophie Devine and Harris have made as big a batting impact as her. But what has been impressive is her game against spin, including against left-arm spinners.

Against Mumbai, you do expect a lot of spin, especially with three front-line spinners, in the form of Hayley Matthews, Amelia Kerr and Saika Ishaque. McGrath against spin is just made of different gravy – with an average of 85. Only twice in the competition has she been dismissed by spin, and both of them came against Mumbai’s spinners.

Will Saika Ishaque bounce back?

Since March 13, in the four games Mumbai have played, Saika has picked up just one wicket. That too came in the last clash against RCB. In the four games, the left-arm spinner averages just 109, with an economy rate of nearly eight. In short, she has been poor, resulting in Mumbai losing control of the game. 

Also Read: Uncapped Indians who could be capped soon

UP Warriorz are the second-worst opponent for Saika, only behind RCB Women. Will be interesting to see how she approaches this game, especially now that the limelight is heavily on her.

Pitch and conditions

At the start of the tournament, the DY Patil Stadium was a good venue for the batters, with 200 always on the cards. But in recent times, it has turned into a slow and mucky affair, visible from how the games have panned out. In the last five clashes, in only one encounter has the team gone past the 150-run mark.

The average batting score at the venue in the tournament has been 144, with the pacers having a slight advantage over the spinners. 63 wickets have been picked up by the pacers, with an average of 20.5 while the spinners have picked up 51 wickets averaging 27. But the dying nature of the pitch, and slowing down of conditions could prompt to pick more spinners.

Tactical Nous

-        Sophie Ecclestone vs Hayley Matthews is a definite match-up, and has in the past dismissed the Mumbai opener five times. In fact, Matthews averages just 8.4 with the bat against the left-arm spinner, with an underwhelming strike-rate of 62.7. A battle that is note-worthy.

-        On the same topic of match-ups, Nat Sciver-Brunt’s impact could be huge on the outcome of this encounter. Against UP Warriorz’ destructive batter, Grace Harris, Mumbai should use more of the English all-rounder. Sciver has dismissed Harris twice, with an average of 11 against her.

Team Combination

Mumbai won’t make a change to their playing XI, and with the return of Vastrakar, have found the perfect unit

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

The Warriorz will back their winning combination to do the job for them in the eliminator against Mumbai

Probable XI: Alyssa Healy (Captain and wk), Devika Vaidya, Tahlia McGrath, Kiran Navgire, Deepti Sharma, Simran Shaikh, Grace Harris, Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Anjali Sarvani, Parshvi Chopra

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