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WPL 2: All-round Amelia Kerr, Harmanpreet seal MI’s second win

The defending champions restricted Gujarat Giants to a modest total before easing to a five-wicket win with 11 balls to spare in Bengaluru

On Friday, defending champions Mumbai Indians beat last year’s runners-up Delhi Capitals to kick off the second season of the Women’s Premier League. On Sunday, they brushed aside the challenge of the inaugural season’s last-placed Gujarat Giants at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

Mumbai Indians batters Harmanpreet Kaur and Amelia Kerr run between the wickets.(PTI)

Set a modest target of 127, MI batters played sensibly on a slow wicket to chase down the target with captain Harmanpreet Kaur standing tall and scoring an unbeaten 46. Kaur swatted the only six of the innings to sign off the chase. GG bowlers, with too little to defend, did take the match into death overs but with Kaur well set, MI were on course.

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Amelia Kerr made 31 to follow up on her bowling heroics while Nat-Sciver Brunt scored 22 to ease MI’s chase.

MI needed 18.1 overs to get to the target and stamp their authority and win the game by five wickets to make it two victories in a row, showing they will be the team to beat this time too, GG were left to introspect. WPL I proved dismal with GG finishing last in the points table of the five-team tournament. Though the franchise made as many as 11 changes to the squad for WPL 2, it didn’t make much difference going by how they have started the new season.

Harmanpreet elected to bowl first on winning the toss and Shabnim Ismail trapped Veda Krishnamurthy leg before in the very first over. Asking her to open with skipper Beth Mooney (22) was a surprise as the 31-year-old is a middle-order bat and hasn’t done well for Karnataka for two seasons.

Ismail, the seamer from South Africa, also trapped Harleen Doel (8) leg before, to put pressure on Mooney and 20-year-old Phoebe Litchfield. While Mooney (24 off 22 balls) kept going, Litchfield, bought for ₹1 crore, was caught off Nat Sciver-Brunt for seven runs.

Spinner Hayley Mathews came to the party and sent back Dayalan Hemalatha (8), reducing GG to 55/4. At 58/5 in 10.1 overs after Beth Mooney was dismissed, GG didn’t look like they would even get to 100. Scotland import Kathryn Bryce (25 not out, 24 balls) and Tanuja Kanwar (28 off 21 balls) got together to provide some stability to the GG innings and then went after the bowling. But young Kiwi leg-spinner Amelia Kerr claimed the last four wickets, starting with Ashleigh Gardner (15) in the 14th over. Tanuja was one of the two who were stumped off her bowling as MI regained control.

In the end, 126 runs were not enough to test MI. Openers Yastika Bhatia (7) and Hayley Mathews (7) fell cheaply and when Nat Sciver-Brunt (22 off 18 balls) fell, MI were 49/3 in 7.4 overs. But Harmanpreet (46*, 41 balls) and Amelia Kerr (31 off 25 balls) added 66 runs for the fourth wicket to ease any pressure as MI won with 11 balls to spare.

Brief scores: Gujarat Giants 126/9 (Kathryn Bryce 25, Tanuja Kanwar 28, Shabnim Ismail 3/18, Amelia Kerr 4/117); Mumbai Indians 129/5 in 18.1 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 46*, Amelia Kerr 31, Tanuja Kanwar 2/21). MI won by 5 wickets.


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