Can a change in venue bring about a change in fortunes for the Royal Challengers Bangalore? – This was the theme of the evening as Royal Challengers Bangalore headed to the DY Patil Stadium for the first time in the Women’s Premier League, facing Delhi Capitals in their first reverse fixture.
Well, it wasn’t a change of fate but rather a change in the margin of defeat, with DC winning the match by six wickets in a last-over thriller, following an improved performance from RCB.
RCB struggles to finish on a high
RCB’s struggles to keep the tempo high in the middle and late overs in their batting innings continued with the side stuck at 41 after losing its openers by the ninth over. While Marizanne Kapp shone with the ball a few days ago against Gujarat Giants, it was her new ball partner Shikha Pandey’s turn to shine, as she picked up three wickets to restrict RCB to 150 in 20 overs – a score that was possible courtesy Ellyse Perry and Richa Ghosh’s 74-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Pandey began by condemning Smriti to yet another single digit score when the RCB skipper pulled Pandey to the deep but didn’t get enough distance on the shot, holing out to Jemimah Rodrigues instead.
Before her dismissal, Smriti and opening partner Sophie Devine got off to a cautious start, eager to not allow DC to capitalise on any early errors. Pandey turned the script around with Smriti’s dismissal and also removed Devine soon after she her attempt to go across the line ended in the ball knocking off her leg stump.
New batters Perry and Heather Knight took some time to settle in — something the Aussie veteran was critical of in hindsight. Tara Norris took advantage of the drop in momentum, removing Knight for a 12-ball 11.
Perry then settled in to consolidate with Ghosh at the other end. Ghosh, particularly, took advantage of the shorter boundaries as she dealt in fours and sixes, going at a remarkable strike rate of 231. Her sprightly 16-ball 37 was brought to an end by Pandey soon after.
Needing a late flourish, Perry picked up pace and punished Pandey for dropping her off her own bowling when the Australian was on 29. Her unbeaten 67 off 52 balls saw four fours and five sixes and was key in getting RCB to a par score.
Bowlers test Delhi middle order
Chasing 151 to win, Delhi skipper Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma who have together put up 344 runs together in four matches couldn’t replicate their success with Megan Schutt dismissing Verma for a golden duck.
Lanning decided to play it safe and was joined by Alice Capsey who took on the power-hitting duties for the evening. The 18-year-old England allrounder showed what she can do with the bat with a brisk 24-ball 38 before being dismissed by Preeti Bose. Sobhana Asha will remember her maiden WPL scalp for a long time to come, removing the dangerous Lanning for an 18-ball 15.
I’ve played domestic cricket for 16 years and I’m only getting recognized now, I cannot explain what playing this tournament means to me.
— Sobhana Asha
Asha also dismissed Jemimah Rodrigues to give RCB a serious chance in this clash. Jemimah looked set in the middle, getting to 32 before her time at the crease was brought to an end.
The onus then shifted onto Kapp and Jess Jonassen, who has been having a fantastic tournament with the bat. The duo put up a 45-run stand for the fifth wicket.
RCB’s bowlers tested the Delhi middle order, stifling the run flow and ensuring DC still needed a last over finish to seal the game in its favour. With nine runs needed off six balls, RCB brought back Renuka Singh Thakur.
The Indian seamer started well, giving away just two runs in the first two balls with the ask getting tense by the minute. However, an in-form Jonassen finished the game in style with a six over deep midwicket and a four over the bowler’s head to hand deny RCB a chance to open its account in the tournament.