When Velocity sent Shafali Verma and Natthakan Chantam to chase the 151-run target set by the Supernovas, Verma seemed to hesitate to take first strike when she saw Sophie Ecclestone warming up to bowl. She did eventually and silenced arguably the most potent bowling arsenal in this tournament, guiding Velocity to a seven-wicket win in their first match in the Women’s T20 Challenge at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.
This is now the highest successful chase in the tournament’s history.
While fans and pundits alike waited with bated breath to catch star domestic batter Kiran Navgire in action, Verma set out to underline why the WT20C is her hunting ground, racing off to the fastest fifty in the history of the tournament (in 30 balls) to help Velocity register the highest ever PowerPlay score – 60/1.
The 18-year-old had steady support at the other end in Yastika Bhatia, who focused on rotating strike. Growing in confidence, Verma soon sent Ecclestone to the boundary twice. The World no.1 bowler in T20Is lost an opportunity to have the last laugh as Deandra Dottin dropped a dolly at point.
Much like in Women’s ODI World Cup earlier this year, Dottin came on soon after and snuffed out Verma with Harmanpreet Kaur diving to her left to take a remarkable one-handed catch at short third man.
It made no difference to Velocity with a settled Laura Wolvaardt (51* off 35 balls) and skipper Deepti Sharma (24* off 25 balls) finishing the job with ease with 10 balls to spare.
Put in to bat by Sharma, Supernovas got off to a horrifying start in the first and only day game of the tournament. Kate Cross got Priya Punia to hole out to Ayabonga Khaka at cover. The England all-rounder then deceived Harleen Deol to produce an outside edge which went straight to Wolvaardt at backward point. Deepti then brought herself on and reaped instant rewards, getting the prized wicket of Dottin, with an awkward top-edge gathered comfortably by Yastika Bhatia behind the stumps.
Under pressure, skipper Kaur and Taniya Bhatia were tasked with the rebuilding job. The duo stitched together an 82-run stand for the fourth wicket, the highest in the tournament at that position. Kaur’s signature sweep shot was on full display as she negotiated some probing spells from Sneh Rana. She finished with a 51-ball 71.
Velocity meets Trailblazers next on Thursday. Smriti Mandhana’s side needs a win to remain in contention for a place in the final, which will bring things down to the net run rate. If Velocity wins, Kaur’s Supernovas will make it to the final.
SUPERNOVAS 150/5 (Kaur 71, Bhatia 36; Cross 2/24) lost to VELOCITY 151/3 (Wolvaardt 51*, Verma 51; Dottin 2/21) by 7 wickets with 10 balls to spare.