As the league stage of IPL 2020 comes to an end, the focus shifts towards the Women’s T20 Challenge. Two of Indian cricket's biggest stalwarts will lead the two teams that will face off in the curtain raiser. The Supernovas led by Harmanpreet Kaur will take on Mithali Raj’s Velocity in the first match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
All three league stage matches as well as the final will be held in Sharjah. The league stage is of a round-robin format where all three teams will take on each other and the top two will head into the final.
In the two matches played between these sides previously, Supernovas have been victorious in both. In the league stage of the 2019 Women’s T20 Challenge, Supernovas beat Velocity by 12 runs and in the final of the 2019 edition, they won by four wickets.
HEAD TO HEAD
Matches – 2 | SN – 2 Wins | VEL – 0 Wins
At the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, a total of 10 women’s T20I matches have taken place. In those 10 games, on an average, 119 runs have been scored in the first innings and seven wickets have fallen per innings. However, since 2017, in the four matches played, an average total of 128 has been posted in the first innings.
As is usually the case, irrespective of conditions, spinners bowl most of the overs. In Sharjah, spinners have bowled 60.7 percent of the overs as compared to 39.3 by pacers. The wickets section is also dominated by spinners, but pacers have a better average and strike rate.
A combination of five batters including the wicketkeeper, two allrounders and four bowlers should be the ideal combination. Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur are the top contenders for selection among the batters.
The Sri Lankan allrounder Chamari Atapattu is one of the must-haves amongst allrounders. Indian fast bowling allrounder Shikha Pandey and South African leg-spinning allrounder Sune Luus are two of the contenders for the second allrounder spot.
Among bowlers, the Indian spin trio of Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav and Ekta Bisht should make it to the fantasy XI with ease. Leigh Kasperek, Arundhati Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar, Shakera Selman are few of the other contenders for the fourth bowling spot.
SHAFALI VERMA: The 16-year old flamboyant opener from Haryana has been a sensation since she made her T20I debut. Shafali Verma has scored 487 runs at a strike rate of 146.3 in the 19 T20I innings she has played. Among batters who have played 15 or more innings since 2019 in WT20Is, her strike rate is second best after Alyssa Healy (157.3).
The fascinating thing about her batting has been the way she attacks at the start of the innings. Majority of Shafali’s runs have come in the Powerplay at a strike rate of 150.6. Among batters who have played 10 or more innings in this phase in WT20Is since 2019, Shafali’s strike rate is the best.
CHAMARI ATAPATTU: The Sri Lankan left-handed batter has been the most successful player for them in WT20Is. She was the first Asian woman to score a century in T20Is. Since 2019 in T20Is, Atapattu has contributed 21% of the Sri Lankan women's team's runs. This speaks volumes about her ability.
POONAM YADAV: Poonam Yadav, with 95 wickets in T20Is, is the highest wicket-taker for India across men’s and women’s T20Is. The legspinner was outstanding in this year's T20 World Cup, picking up 10 wickets in five encounters at an impressive average of 11.90 and an economy of 5.95. There's no doubt that the opposition will be wary of her slow and loopy leg-breaks.
RADHA YADAV: While Poonam might be the best bowler in the Indian women's team, Radha Yadav isn’t far behind. Since 2019 in T20Is, Radha has been the best bowler for India with 32 wickets. Her speciality has been her bowling in the last five overs of the innings. The left-arm spinner has bagged 10 of her 32 wickets during the last five overs. With the capability of bowling under pressure, Radha can certainly be one of the top players in this match.