Bowlers win Trailblazers maiden Women’s T20 Challenge crown; Radha Yadav’s 5/16 in vain

Trailblazers players celebrate their victory over Supernovas in the Women's T20 Challenge final. © BCCI/ IPL

Salma Khatun picked up 3/18, while Deepti Sharma (2/9) took a couple of wickets as the Trailblazers bowlers dished out a clinical performance to lift the Women’s T20 Challenge title for the first time defeating Supernovas by 16 runs in the final at the Sharjah International Stadium on Monday (November 9).

Defending a below-par 119 for victory, it wasn’t as easy for Supernovas to chase down the total. Unlike the Trailblazers openers, the Supernovas pair of Chamari Atapattu and Jemimah Rodrigues didn’t have the sweetest of the start, losing the former in the second over itself for just six.

Beaten by pace, the Sri Lankan captain was trapped in front by a Sophie Ecclestone delivery which was initially given not out by the umpire. However, an excellent review by Trailblazers skipper Smriti Mandhana confirmed the wicket. While the No.1 T20I bowler in the world kept things at check at one end, legendary pacer Jhulan Goswami (0/17) gave her English teammate able support from the other end.

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Supernovas finished the powerplay at 28/1. Things got worse for Supernovas when Deepti Sharma picked up Taniya Bhatia for 14 in her first over. The Bengal allrounder was in action again in her next, this time thanks to a brilliant catch Nattakan Chantam at cover-point to send Jemimah Rodrigues packing for unlucky 13.

With the pitch assisting the spinners, as seen in the first innings, Mandhana brought all her slow bowlers into action with the likes of Ecclestone (1/26), Harleen Deol (0/9), Khatun, Rajeshwari Gayakwad (0/23) following their captain’s order. The experienced duo of Harmanpreet Kaur and Shashikala Siriwardene struggled to find the gaps as the Trailblazers bowlers pressed hard to bring the net run-rate higher for the opposition.

The partnership of 37 runs was finally broken when Siriwardene trying to paddle sweep Khatun ended up getting a top edge which was gleefully caught by Goswami at the short fine leg. Struggling to get going with a hamstring pull, Harmanpreet too followed suit, clean bowled by Khatun for a fighting 30.

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Anuja Patil (eight) and Pooja Vastrakar (zero) too couldn’t do any good for the Supernovas as they finally ended at 102/7 to hand Trailblazers a thrilling victory. Earlier, along with another explosive batter in Deandra Dottin, Mandhana gave Trailblazers a flying start dispatching the Supernovas bowlers at will. The left-hander hit Anuja Patil for 4, 4 and 6 in the second over to give an early hint it was her day.

Winning the toss for the time in the tournament, Trailblazers couldn’t have let the chance let go to free the arms and the opening duo did exactly the same. Mandhana’s six off Vastrakar in the seventh over, playing inside-out was a treat to watch.

While Mandhana moved around the crease nicely hitting the beautiful square drives, the right-handed Dottin played a perfect second fiddle despite struggling to find the ropes. However, the introduction of experienced Poonam Yadav by Supernovas captain Harmanpreet in the eighth over started to pull the brakes on.

Radha Yadav celebrates after dismissing Deepti Sharma during the Women’s T20 Challenge final. © BCCI/ IPL

The Women in Sky Blue tightened the grips as they didn’t allow a single boundary in the next four overs giving away just 15 runs. However, it was Poonam who gave Supernovas the first breakthrough in the form of Dottin.

The right-hander tried to heave it over deep midwicket but ended up slicing straight up in the air for Radha Yadav, who fumbles in the first attempt before taking the catch safely. Despite, the wicket, the southpaw carried on with her series of boundaries hitting Poonam for a consecutive four and a six, bringing up her fifty in the process.

Meanwhile, it was her dismissal in the 15th over that brought the collapse for Trailblazers. The Pink Brigade lost the momentum as they went from 101/2 in the 15th over to finish at 118/8 at the end of 20 overs, thanks to Radha’s fiery spell.

The left-handed off-spinner struck a double blow in the 18th over picking up both Richa Ghosh and Deepti Sharma before returning back to pick another three in the final over of the innings to finish with figures 4-0-16-5. She also became the first bowler in the history of the tournament to take a fifer.

Brief scores: Trailblazers 118/8 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 68; Radha Yadav 5/16) beat Supernovas 102/7 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 30; Salma Khatun 3/18) by 16 runs. POTM: Smriti Mandhana.