Deepti Sharma and Harleen Deol almost did a "Sune Luus-Sushma Verma" on Supernovas but the defending champions held their nerves and pulled off a thrilling two-run victory in the third and final group game of the Women's T20 Challenge 2020 in Sharjah on Saturday (November 7). The win also meant that Velocity were knocked out of the tournament and Trailblazers and Supernovas will come face to face once again in the final on Monday.
Opting to bat, Chamari Athapaththu smashed 67 off 48 deliveries, studded with five fours and four maximums, and along with Priya Punia (37-ball 30) and Harmanpreet Kaur (29-ball 31) propelled Supernovas to 146/6 in 20 overs. In reply, Trailblazers looked down and out at one stage but Deepti (40-ball 43*) and Harleen (15-ball 27) added 52 runs for the fifth wicket and almost got their team over the line. Trailblazers needed 10 runs in the final over but Radha Yadav bowled an outstanding last over, conceding only seven runs.
ATHAPATHTHU PRODUCES A MASTERCLASS
Earlier, Punia struggled big time against Jhulan Goswami as it took her nine deliveries to get off the mark. The right-hander did play a couple of solid shots but kept finding the fielders. While Punia was taking ample time, Athapaththu took the attack to Deepti Sharma from the word go. The left-hander from Sri Lanka slammed the offspinner for two boundaries in her first over and then tonked her again for 15 in her second.
The Trailblazers' bowlers were very ill-disciplined in the Powerplay and conceded 12 runs in extras. Athapaththu even went after Goswami, smashing her for a four and a six, before Punia finally got her first boundary in the last over of the Powerplay. Athapaththu was outstanding down the ground and also played some astonishing sweep shots, as Supernovas were 50 for no loss at the end of six overs.
That boundary gave Punia some confidence and the 24-year-old started scoring runs more freely. The two openers didn't allow left-arm spinners Sophie Ecclestone and Rajeshwari Gayakwad to settle in and kept finding boundaries at regular intervals. Ecclestone, the top-ranked T20I bowler, was the one who allowed Punia to break free. The bowlers were a little too straight to Athapaththu and the 30-year-old made the most of it.
Supernovas raced to 75 for no loss in nine overs and the Trailblazers skipper Smriti Mandhana brought Salma Khatun and Harleen into the attack with the hope of getting a breakthrough. The two were tidy and it was Khatun who finally managed to break the 89-run stand in the 12th over. Punia tried to up the ante but ended up offering a simple catch to the fielder at long-on. Athapaththu however carried on and completed her fifty with a trademark sweep shot.
Harmanpreet promoted herself to No. 3 in search of some quick runs but it was still Athapaththu who was doing the majority of the scoring. Harmanpreet just couldn't get her timing right and that allowed Khatun and Ecclestone to dictate terms in the middle overs. With Harmanpreet struggling, the onus was on Athapaththu to kept the runs flowing and the Sri Lankan didn't disappoint. Khatun, who only conceded 11 runs in her first three overs, was taken out for 14 in her final over. It was important for Trailblazers to get rid of Athapaththu and put some pressure on Supernovas in the last few overs and it was Harleen who did the job for her team with her loopy legbreaks. Harleen dismissed Athapaththu in the 17th over and that cost Supernovas at least 10-15 runs.
Jemimah Rodrigues (1) was dismissed cheaply as the surface kept getting slower and slower. Harleen was offering no pace whatsoever but asking her to bowl the penultimate over proved to be costly for the Trailblazers. Having scored 13 off 19 till then, Harmanpreet finally brought some momentum into her innings by smacking Harleen for a four and a six to accumulate 15 from her final over. Harmanpreet scored 31 before being run-out in the final over. After being 80 for no loss at the end of 10 overs, Supernovas only managed 66 in the next 10.
HARLEEN AND DEEPTI 'ALMOST' PULL OFF A HEIST
Deandra Dottin was always going to be a threat and the West Indian announced her arrival with a massive six down the ground. While Dottin was going all guns blazing Mandhana from one end, Mandhana couldn't get her timing right. The stylish left-hander didn't have a great T20 World Cup and was also dismissed for just 6 against Velocity. Dottin however scored at a solid pace and that allowed Mandhana to take her time. Dottin was smashing at a strike rate of almost 200 in the Powerplay, in which Trailblazers scored 43 for loss.
The two added 44 for the opening wicket and Supernovas were starting to get desperate. Harmanpreet introduced Shakera Selman into the attack straight after the Powerplay and the right-arm seamer got Dottin (15-ball 27) and Richa Ghosh (4) in her very first over. Dottin, who was given lbw, was unlucky as the replays later suggested that the ball was missing the leg-stump by a big margin. Selman could have had her third wicket in the second over if Punia wouldn't have dropped Mandhana at mid-wicket.
Mandhana was going nowhere with her innings and was on 25 off 36 at one stage. The opener finally managed to break the shackles in the 12th over when she tonked Siriwardene for her first maximum. For some reason, Harmanpreet kept Poonam Yadav away from both the left-handers. The pressure was mounting on Mandhana who finally ran out of luck and hit one straight to the bowler after scoring 33 off 40. Harmanpreet herself came on to bowl and did a pretty decent job in her first over, bringing the equation down to 56 off 30.
Supernovas lost to Velocity from sort of a similar position, and Deepti and Harleen was just starting to get a move on. The two smashed Harmanpreet for a boundary each in her second over and then accumulated nine runs from the 17th over. Poonam was finally asked to bowl but the legspinner kept bowing short and got clobbered for consecutive boundaries. With 24 needed off 12, Deepti blasted Selman for back-to-back boundaries off the first two deliveries of the penultimate over and all Trailblazers needed in the final over was 10 runs.
Harleen and Deepti scored a couple of braces and two singles in the first four deliveries before the former hit one straight to the fielder at cover-point, leaving four to get off the final delivery. Radha however held her nerve as Ecclestone failed to connect.