Twin half-centuries from Shafali Verma and Laura Wolvaardt take Velocity over the line

A trio of half-centuries from Harmanpreet Kaur, Shafali Verma and Laura Wolvaardt lit up the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune as  Velocity trumped Supernovas in the second match of the Women’s T20 Challenge on Tuesday (May 24). Kaur’s 71 runs off 52 balls were not enough for the two times champions as they lost to Deepti Sharma-led side by seven wickets.

17 hours after their stunning victory against Trailblazers, Supernovas were back in the action. Velocity’s captain Deepti Sharma won the toss and invited them to bat first on a fresh pitch. Priya Punia made Sharma question that decision with a crisp cut shot off Kate Cross. Her aggressive start came undone in the third ball of the match as Punia chipped it straight to the fielder at cover. 

Harleen Deol, batting at three, smashed Cross for a boundary, two balls later she faced the same fate as Punia and she was caught at backward-point by Laura Wolvaardt for seven. West Indies’ opener Deandra Dottin watched this unfold from the other end and tried to take control of the innings. She went on her back foot and clobbered Sharma for a four. She tried to repeat the same, but only managed to find a top edge and wicket-keeper Yastika Bhatia did the rest to reduce Supernovas to 18 for three in the fourth over. 

Supernovas made a change to their batting order and promoted Taniya Bhatia at four, while captain Kaur walked in at five. The pair from Punjab had the responsibility to take their side through some turbulent times and they started with caution against Cross and Khaka. The South African pacer missed her lines on multiple occasions in her second over and the duo made the most of it by amassing three boundaries.

Sharma introduced Sneh Rana’s off-spin and Maya Sonawane’s leg-spin to put some extra pressure on Supernovas. After a cautious start against the latter, Kaur clobbered the young bowler from Maharashtra for 14 runs, including a massive six over long-on. The pair added 81 runs, breaking the record for the highest partnership for the fourth wicket in the T20 Challenge, and looked primed for more. A mix-up in the 15th over ended the solid partnership and Velocity breathed a sigh of relief. 

ALSO READ: Pooja Vastrakar and spinners help Supernovas sink Trailblazers in opener

After scoring her half-century off 42 balls, Kaur, who was defensive against Rana throughout the innings, went berserk against the spinner and scored 14 runs off her last three balls of the innings. Radha Yadav’s flighted delivery ended Kaur’s knock of 71 runs in the penultimate over. South Africa’s Sune Luus added 12 runs in the final over to take Supernovas to 150 in the first innings. 

In reply, Kaur handed the ball to no. 1 ranked T20I bowler, Sophie Ecclestone and Verma welcomed her with a straight drive beating the long-on fielder. Her opening partner, Thailand’s Natthakan Chantham could not do much in the chase as she was dismissed by Pooja Vastrakar for one. Verma continued her onslaught at the other end, now with the left-hander Yastika as the pair muscled Meghna Singh for 15 runs in the third over of the power play. Neither Vastrakar nor Ecclestone were spared from Verma’s belligerence and Velocity were flying at 60 for one at the end of the power play.

In order to control this outflow of runs, Kaur handed the ball to Australia’s leg spinner, Alana King and she gave away just five runs in her first over. Kaur’s ploy to introduce Dottin from the other end worked perfectly as Yastika was bowled for 17 in the eight over. Verma survived a close LBW appeal in King’s second over and immediately brought her half-century off just 30 balls. That joy didn’t las long for her as Kaur took a stunning one-hander catch at the short third to end Verma’s innings.

ALSO READ: Shafali Verma and the unbridled joy of batting

Velocity’s captain Sharma walked in at four and joined Wolvaardt, who was just finding her rhythm in the middle. Vastrakar tried to outfox the left-handed batter, but missed her lines and paid the prize for it by conceding ten runs in her third over. Sharma and Wolvaardt were cautious against King and the former got the lifeline as Chandu V dropped a catch of Sharma in Eccelstone’s penultimate over. Kaur brought herself to bowl in the 14th over, but Wolvaardt mastered the timing of her shots to score 12 runs off it.

Velocity were successful in countering the spin of Eccelstone as she remained wicketless and conceded 32 runs from her four overs. With seven needed from the last two overs, Wolvaardt smashed Dottin over mid-on for a six to bring her half-century and level the score. Dottin’s attempted bouncer was called wide by the square-leg umpire and Velocity grabbed their first win of the tournament.

Brief Scores: Supernovas 150/5 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 71, Taniya Bhatia 36; Kate Cross 2/24) lost to Velocity 151/3 in 18.2 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 51*, Shafali Verma 51; Deandra Dottin 2/21) by seven wickets POTM: Harmanpreet Kaur