Pooja Vastrakar and spinners help Supernovas sink Trailblazers in opener

Supernovas win Women's T20 Challenge opener Supernovas celebrate a wicket © BCCI/IPL

An exuberant four-wicket haul by Pooja Vastrakar helped last edition’s runners-up Supernovas rout Smriti Mandhana’s-led Trailblazers by 49 runs in the opening affair of the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Monday (May 23).

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Supernovas required a brisk start from the opening duo of Priya Punia and Deandra Dottin and it didn’t disappoint. It just took Punia two balls to get a feel of the wicket as she shimmied down the track to launch Renuka Singh over long-on for a maximum on the last ball of the first over. 

Dottin couldn’t wait to get going herself and decided to take on Renuka in the third over and struck three fours in the over to announce herself. Trailblazers’ skipper Mandhana was quick to sense that there was hardly any assistance for the seamers on the surface and hence started bowling her spinners from one end. 

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Runs began flowing for Supernovas as both openers started taking the attack to the Trailblazers’ bowlers. Dottin took the aggressor’s role and picked up from where she had left in the recently concluded Fairbreak Invitational T20 tournament. She latched onto deliveries that were either in her arc or pitched slightly short and treated them with utmost disdain.

But just as the pair crossed the fifty-run mark, a slight mix-up cost Dottin her wicket and Mandhana’s side got their first breakthrough against the run of play. In an attempt to steal a single from Square-leg, Dottin was found short of her crease as a direct-hit from Sharmin Akter put an end to her quick-fire 32-run knock off just 17 balls. Punia also fell two overs later as she tried to pull a length ball from Hayley Matthews but ended up getting castled.

Two quick wickets turned the game in a jiffy and it looked like the Trailblazers were going to have a bit of a reprieve but Harleen Deol had other plans. Riding on the confidence gained from a good outing in the recent Senior T20 League 2022, Deol picked her scoring opportunities wisely and didn’t allow Trailblazers to capitalize on the momentum. 

Deol helped her skipper Harmanpreet Kaur to get her eye in as she kept dealing in boundaries and forced Mandhana to do a lot of thinking. Both batters stitched a 37-run stand in 25 deliveries to steady the innings after two quick setbacks. Deol, in particular, looked like taking the Supernovas to a big total but akin to Dottin and Punia she also failed to capitalize after a solid start and eventually fell for an individual score of 35 runs off 19 deliveries.

After losing Deol’s wicket, the Supernovas’ innings got slightly derailed as every other batter apart from Kaur kept getting out while trying to up the ante. Although Kaur tried her best to provide Supernovas’ innings the final flourish it required towards the end, some disciplined bowling efforts from the Trailblazers’ bowling attack limited them to 163. 

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Matthews turned out to be the pick of the Trailblazers’ bowling attack. She varied her pace really well to deceive the batters and ended up with a three-wicket haul.

Chasing 164 to win, Trailblazers got off to a good start themselves as Mandhana and Matthews added 39 runs on the board before Matthews was dismissed by Vastrakar on the last delivery of the fifth over. Trailblazers made the mistake of going after Vastrakar and the 22-year-old all-rounder used it to her own advantage.

She took the prized wicket of Mandhana on the second delivery of the eighth over and then sent Sophia Dunkley packing on the fifth ball of the same over.

Pooja Vastrakar stars with the ball © BCCI/IPL

With Jemimah Rodrigues batting at one end, the other Trailblazers’ batters needed to hang in there and support her but they couldn’t. The spin-pair of Alana King and Sophie Ecclestone got together and put an end to Trailblazers’ hopes of winning the contest.

From 63 for the loss of two wickets in 7.2 overs, Trailblazers got reduced to 73 for seven in 11.5 overs. Being the last recognised batter, Rodrigues tried to put up a fight but couldn’t score more than 24. Her dismissal in the 14th over ended Trailblazers’ resistance and they eventually managed to reach 114 in their 20 overs for the loss of nine wickets.

Brief Scores: Supernovas 163/10 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 37, Harleen Deol 35; Hayley Matthews 3/29, Salma Khatun 2/30)beat Trailblazers 114/9 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 34, Jemimah Rodrigues 24; Pooja Vastrakar 4/12) by 49 runs POTM: Pooja Vastrakar