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Smriti Mandhana takes RCB to 23-run victory against UP Warriorz in WPL 2024

As the tournament heads to Delhi for its second half, the Royal Challengers are back in contention.

Greeted with rapturous applause at the toss, Smriti Mandhana was all smiles when Royal Challengers Bangalore were beginning their Women’s Premier League campaign in front of home fans last month. On Monday, in what was this season’s last game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the RCB skipper signed off in style as her splendid knock led to a 23-run victory against UP Warriorz.

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s captain Smriti Mandhana celebrates after winning the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2024 cricket match (PTI)

With defeats in their last two outings, RCB were just below UPW in fourth position on the points table. But as the tournament heads to Delhi for its second half, the Royal Challengers are back in contention. Asked the bat first, the hosts posted 198/3 – the highest total so far this season – thanks to a 50-ball 80 by Smriti. Ayssa Healy, too, led from the front with the bat but her half-century wasn’t enough as UPW finished with 175/8.

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Bangalore promoted S Meghana (28) to the top and the move worked as the right-hander helped add a quick-fire 51-run partnership for the first wicket. Smriti then got two reprieves in a span of three deliveries, as Chamari Athapaththu misjudged a catch and Healy missed a stumping, but remained aggressive and treated the 26000-plus spectators to some classy strokes.

Ellyse Perry, who was patient for the most part, cut loose once Smriti perished in the 17th over after a 95-run stand. The Australian star smacked 25 runs off the last nine deliveries she faced as RCB added 44 runs in their last three overs. Richa Ghosh, in at No.4, provided the finishing touches with an unbeaten 21 off 10 balls.

“I was really focused coming into the game today,” said Smriti. “The last two losses hurt us a lot, we really wanted to go out there and express ourselves regardless of whether we were batting first or second. The pitch was holding a bit, but we really backed ourselves to go for our shots. We spoke about that in the dressing room as well, that we should go for it if the ball lands in the zone.”

Healy and Kiran Navgire were off to a promising start in the chase but the Warriorz couldn’t capitalise on the momentum. Kiran was sent packing by Sophie Devine before Athapaththu suffered a contentious LBW dismissal after being struck in front by Georgia Wareham.

A lot depended on the in-form Grace Harris but she too couldn’t get going and scooped one to wicketkeeper Richa, who took a fine catch diving to her left. Even as Deepti Sharma and Poonam Khemnar tried to put up a fight, the result was never really in doubt as Devine, Wareham, Asha Sobhana and Sophie Molineux split the eight wickets between them.


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