It was tipped to be a battle of two batting powerhouses. But as dominant as they were in the first two matches, Delhi Capitals (DC) were put under severe test for the first time in the tournament by Mumbai Indians (MI) and their star-studded line-up could muster just 105.
For their opponents, Gujarat Giants (GG) with a maiden Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), a feeling of peaking at the right time could perhaps trickle down to this game against a bruised DC unit, who would quickly be looking to get back into winning ways.
With two near-perfect games for DC, an off day was inevitable. That perhaps is now out of the way with the thrashing against MI. That could very well be a blessing in disguise for DC, who now have to put the game quickly behind them and move on to the next one.
Things to watch out for
Will Laura Wolvaardt make her debut?
South Africa opening batter Laura Wolvaardt replaced the injured Beth Mooney in the squad, which certainly is a massive boost for the Giants who are certainly slim at the top. Wolvaardt finished as the leading run-getter in the recently concluded Women’s T20 World Cup with 230 runs at 46 to go with a strike-rate of 106.28 as the Proteas Women finished the mega event second to Australia.
Wolvaardt, who went unsold in the WPL auction at a base price of INR 30 lakh, is perhaps the sort of replacement the Giants would have hoped for. Like Mooney, Wolvaardt too is a prolific run-scorer and has been among the consistent run-getters in the recent past.
GG have been playing with just three overseas players since Mooney’s injury and as a result, Wolvaardt can come straight into the XI in place of Sabbhineni Meghana who has registered scores of 2, 24 and 8 in the three matches so far. The fact that Sophia Dunkley found form last game is another boost for GG, who are looking to win two on the bounce.
The Sutherland conundrum
What are Annabel Sutherland’s strengths? Is she a batter who can bowl or the other way around? Is she someone who bowls well in the powerplay or is deadly at the death? In the WPL 2023 so far, the pacer has picked up three wickets, conceding at 11.9 an over.
Among those who have bowled at least three overs in the tournament, Sutherland’s economy is the worst. All her three wickets this tournament have come in the death but has conceded 15.5 an over in the last four, which is not something you want from your death bowler.
There is nothing really to ride home about her batting as well, having managed just 28 runs off 32 deliveries at an average of 9.33. The Giants really have to figure out how to make the best use of her all-around skills.
How are the others faring?
After an underwhelming performance in the first two games, Australia all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner finally came to the party against RCB, where she chipped in with three vital wickets. However, the Giants will want her to contribute a bit more with the bat, having contributed just 44 runs in three innings thus far.
DC will be delighted with the contribution Jemimah Rodrigues has made in the tournament. She has been in fine form in T20s this year having slammed 267 runs at 38.1 to go with a healthy strike-rate of 125. While Dunkley and Harleen Deol too have made significant contributions in the last couple of matches, that has not been the case with Alice Capsey, who is yet to make a mark in the tournament. In fact, she has not taken off in T20s this year and will hope for a better showing for the rest of the tournament.
Pitch and conditions
Runs have been a tad tougher to come by at the DY Patil Stadium, compared to the Brabourne Stadium. The batters have scored at 8.1 an over at DY Patil, compared to 9.6 at Brabourne. At the DY Patil, the batters have scored runs at an average of 25.2 and have been dismissed once every 18.5, which is significantly inferior to the Brabourne.
The fast bowlers have been the ones doing the bulk of the damage on this track accounting for nearly 60% of the wickets. The dew has barely played a part in the tournament so far, yet, batting first and making use of the wicket early on, getting as close as possible to the 200-run mark will be key.
This tournament has shown runs on the board are critical, but that strategy could change perhaps closer to the halfway stage with the wear and tear of the tracks coming into play.
As dominant as she has been in the tournament so far, DC skipper Meg Lanning’s weakness has largely been against spin of late. The three dismissals in WPL 2023 have come against spinners, and twice against orthodox spinners. Four of her eight dismissals in T20s have come against this bowling type with balls per dismissal ratio of 20.7 – the worst for Lanning against any bowling type in 2023. It will not be surprising if the Giants introduce Tanuja Kanwar against her early on.
Shikha Pandey has struggled to get going in the WPL so far, having picked up two wickets at 40.5. She has looked at home in the middle phase though, with both her wickets coming in overs 7-15, conceding at 6.3 an over. However, in the powerplay, she has struggled to have any sort of control, going at 7.7.
The batters have taken her apart in the first six whenever she has bowled very full (0-6m), conceding at 8.5 an over. She could maybe pull the length back a bit with the field restrictions in place, forcing the batters to use power instead. Nevertheless, the same length has worked for her in the middle overs, as she has conceded at a miserly 2.38 an over.
The Capitals opted for a spinner in Minnu Mani ahead of seam-bowling all-rounder Arundhati Reddy at DY Patil, which was bit of a surprise given how well the pacers have fared at the venue. However, injuries aside, Arundhati should return to the XI in place of the 23-year-old. Otherwise, DC might look at the loss against MI as a minor blip and not make any further changes.
Meg Lanning (c), Shafali Verma, Marizanne Kapp, Jemimah Rodrigues, Alice Capsey, Jess Jonassen, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Arundhati Reddy, Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, Tara Norris
The inclusion of Wolvaardt is potentially what could turn this decent-looking Gujarat Giants into a world-class unit. With a win over RCB in the previous fixture, we could very well see GG turn a corner and get on a winning run. Their ground fielding however has not been up to the mark, which is something they may have to address.
Laura Wolvaardt, Sophia Dunkley, Harleen Deol, Annabel Sutherland, Sushma Verma (wk), Ashleigh Gardner, Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana (c), Kim Garth, Mansi Joshi, Tanuja Kanwar