Sophie Devine at the Press conference. ©BCCI/IPL

If the first match of the Women’s T20 Challenge is anything to go by, then remaining games will definitely take fans and followers of the game to the edge.

In a game that was a mix of patience, persistence and power Trailblazers led by Smriti Mandhana defeated Harmanpreet Kaur’s Supernovas by 2 just two runs.

Being put to bat first, Trailblazers’ skipper Smriti Mandhana strugged early on to connect bat with the ball. But her patience to stay on till the end paid rich dividends as she punished Supernovas’ bowlers all over the park for 90 off 67 to propel her team’s total to 140.

Supernovas stumbled in their chase on a wicket that was getting difficult to bat on and in no time found themselves to 74-4 from a healthy 55-1. When Sophie Devine joined Harmanpreet Kaur, they required 66 runs from final seven overs. As the wicket slowed down further, both the power hitters found boundaries difficult to come by as the asking rate rose to almost 10 runs per over.

In the post-match conference Devine said, “It was disappointing to get so close [and lose], I thought we left it a little bit too much for later at the end there. To make 30 off the last three overs on a pitch that was a little bit tricky was asking a bit too much. But, Harmanpreet can do those sort of things and she took us very close to what could have been a great win.” 

Devine herself played a quick knock of 32 off 22 in which she hit 2 fours and 2 sixes. It appeared had she had taken Supernovas back on to the track. It was the penultimate over that changed the match completely. Sophie Ecclestone of Trailblazers delivered perfect over in which she dismissed Devine and gave only 2 runs. This incredible performance meant Supernovas needed 19 runs off the final over and their challenge was over.

Harmanpreet went beserk on the experienced Jhulan Goswami in the final over and smashed 3 boundaries in first 4 balls. Needed 7 off last 2 balls, Harmanpreet smashed another boundary on the next ball which landed millimetres inside the boundary rope and that means 3 runs were needed off the last ball. Harmanpreet failed to connect the final ball which means her super human effort fell short by just 2 runs.

Talking about Harman’s heroics, Devine said, “Me and Lea Tahuhu, when we saw the team lists, [went like] ‘it’s nice to have her on our team finally’. We’ve got nightmares of her just smashing us all around the park and knocking us out of the World Cup. She’s a fantastic player and it’s awesome to be on her side [and not bowling to her].” 

Despite the BCCI and the broadcasters’ efforts to attract the crowds into the stadiums, only a few hundered fans turned out to watch the game. On the topic of attendance Devine added,”Look, I think, it’s unfortunate that in women’s game we don’t fill big crowds here. But, hopefully, with games like we’ve shown tonight the people will come to the stadium and watch it for themselves live. We absolutely would love to have the big crowds but we know that we need to put up a great product. And I thought the match tonight was fantastic [in that respect]. I hope in the next two games and in the final we can get a good crowd in.”

Supernovas will take on Velocity on 9th May at the same venue where they will try to rectify the mistakes and force their entry into the final.

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