If the league games in the Women’s T20 Challenge are anything to go by, the MCA stadium will be in for a cracker of a final between Supernovas and Velocity in Pune on Saturday.
Besides tying up a strong case for a full-fledged Women’s Indian Premier League from next year, the final might also serve as an audition for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
It is certainly something that is working on Supernovas skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s mind.
“These matches are important for me to carry my form to whatever tournament. Whatever matches we have, I want to contribute and be in a good frame of mind ahead of Commonwealth Games 2022,” she said ahead of the summit clash.
Kaur’s purple patch has been crucial for Supernovas, which is not as balanced as it would have liked to be with the bat, despite having Deandra Dottin, Harleen Deol, Sune Luus and Pooja Vastrakar in the lineup.
Dottin and Priya Punia provided a good start for the side against Trailblazers but failed to get going against Velocity. In both cases, the rescue act fell on Kaur’s shoulders. With 37(29) in the first game and 71(51) in the second, she is crucial to Supernovas fortunes in the final.
Dottin finds herself up against Kiran Navgire who, on batting debut, scored the fastest fifty in the tournament’s history on Thursday. “Mujhe dot balls pasand nahin hai (I don’t like dot balls),” is a line often used anytime she faces a camera to explain her approach.
“This is the first time I have seen (Navgire) play. We have tried some things at the net today while planning for her. Her innings (against Trailblazers) was very impactful, and everyone enjoyed it. The first ball she faced (which she hit for a six) showed what kind of a player she is. It was great to see someone from India hitting the ball into the stands,” Kaur said.
Her explosive powers seem much like Dottin’s; both batters barely need to strain an extra muscle to clear the sight screen. Supernovas will bank on her to steady their start and play a long innings.
Harmanpreet placed much importance on her bowling arsenal, but Alana King and Sophie Ecclestone have not been as menacing to take on. Part of it might have got to do with the wicket, with its generous green patches proving hassle-free for batters. Then again, if the nature of the pitch is changed, teams will need to adapt accordingly.
Vastrakar becomes important in this equation. Her feisty run-up and consistent lines against batters like Navgire will be interesting to watch.
For Velocity, fielding was a concern against Trailblazers, with four dropped catches allowing a 113-run partnership take shape between S Meghana and Jemimah Rodrigues.
Skipper Deepti Sharma has backed up Kate Cross with the new ball to some success and intends to continue.
“I have been bowling with the new ball in domestic and international cricket and I am used to it now. If you can control the new ball, you can bowl with the old ball as well,” Sharma said.
Velocity is bidding for its maiden WT20C title, the only team among the three to not win a title yet, and its captain seems confident of going all the way.
“We have the team to win the trophy given the way we have been playing from the first game with all the players doing their roles. Moreover, we have been enjoying the game,” she added, evident in the Bollywood-inspired celebration.
For exports from the domestic leagues and fringe players like Harleen Deol, the final could be their best chance to hog the limelight and hopefully grab the selectors attention.
Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia, Alana King, Ayushi Soni, Chandu V, Deandra Dottin, Harleen Deol, Meghna Singh, Monica Patel, Muskan Malik, Pooja Vastrakar, Priya Punia, Rashi Kanojia, Sophie Ecclestone, Sune Luus, Mansi Joshi.
Velocity: Deepti Sharma (C), Sneh Rana, Shafali Verma, Ayabonga Khaka, Kiran Navgire, Kate Cross, Keerthi James, Laura Wolvaardt, Maya Sonawane, Natthakan Chantham, Radha Yadav, Aarti Kedar, Shivali Shinde, Simran Bahadur, Yastika Bhatia, Pranavi Chandra