In a match were momentum swung from one sided to the other on many instances, it was Harmanpreet Kaur’s Supernovas that eventually triumphed to win the Women’s T20 Challenge, by four wickets.
Having won the toss, Supernovas elected to field first, sending Velocity in to bat. New Zealand import Lea Tahuhu got her side off to a dream start with the opening over being a wicket maiden. A peach of a delivery by the fiery pacer, that swung away late, saw the back of Hayley Matthews who was caught behind by Taniya Bhatia. In the following over, Bhatia was again in the middle of the action, completing a clever stumping of in-form Danni Wyatt. The third over then saw the third wicket fall as Shafali Verma, who had hit Tahuhu for consecutive boundaries of the previous two deliveries, was caught by Anuja Patil in a controversial dismissal. Patil threw the ball up almost immediately after catching it, igniting some debate over whether she was in control of it and why it had not been rechecked. Either way, at the end of the third over, Velocity had been reduced to 14-3.
Mithali Raj and Veda Krishnamurthy then attempted to breathe some life into the innings but fell soon afterwards, leaving their side in a precarious position at 37-5, in the eighth over. Their dismissals brought Amelia Kerr and Sushma Verma to the crease. The two batted sensibly at the start to build a partnership, then accelerated. By the time Kerr was caught on 36 off 38, Velocity looked set to post a respectable total. Verma (40 off 32) then added a further 12 runs, including a six in the final over, to finish her sides innings on 121-6, total that looked impossible to achieve given the start Velocity had.
For Supernovas, Tahuhu bowled well up front and finished her spell with figures of 2-21. Supporting her were Patil, Sophie Devine, Natalie Sciver and Poonam Yadav, who each claimed a scalp.
Chasing a relatively low total, Supernovas’ innings got off to a less than ideal start when Chamari Attapththu was run out in the second over. However, Supernovas’ star of the previous match, Jemimah Rodrigues and Jaipur’s home-grown talent Priya Punia then banded together for a 44-run stand. They both lost their wickets within a space a three balls halfway into the chase, triggering a collapse. Soon, Devine and Sciver were also walking back as Supernovas slipped to 64-5. Then began the Harmanpreet Kaur show. A true big-match player, Kaur made the most of the opportunity presented to, her reviving her sides innings. Though she took time to settle in, once she got going she ripped apart Velocity’s bowling. Kaur hammered her way to 51 off 37 deliveries; a knock that included four boundaries and three sixes.
Because of her, equation was then reduced to seven needed off the last over. Pressure had mounted as only three had been scored off the previous one. Teenage Kerr was given the responsibility to help Velocity seal the win and she had to bowl to Kaur. The first ball: a dot, almost resulting in a run out. The second delivery saw Kaur hole out to deep cover, where Matthews took a diving catch. Kaur could only watch from the dugout, as Velocity started to beleive again. Seven runs were needed off four balls as 19-year old Radha Yadav came to the crease. She and Tahuhu ran hard between the wickets, taking three two’s to bring the equation down to one run needed off the last ball. A dot would have forced a super over, but Kerr, who sent down a flighted delivery, hoping to deceive R. Yadav, was smashed for four.
Supernovas won by four wickets, off the last ball of the match. Kaur was named Player of the Match, while Rodrigues claimed the Player of the Series award. The victors celebrated as 13,000 spectators cheered them on. A thrilling finale fittingly capped off what has been a brilliant series. Women’s cricket has undoubtedly gained numerous new fans and the Women’s T20 Challenge has definitely laid down the foundation for a future Women’s Indian Premier League.