Connect with us


WPL final: Delhi Capitals, RCB chase first franchise league title

Meg Lanning’s DC were runners-up in the first edition of Women’s Premier League in 2023 while RCB have scraped through to the title round

If statistics alone were the deciding factor, Meg Lanning’s Delhi Capitals (DC) will be favoured to win the Women’s Premier League (WPL) final against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground on Sunday.

DC and RCB will fight for the WPL 2024 title. (WPL twitter)

But big finals are often more than plain numbers. Even if DC, runners-up in the inaugural edition last year, have romped into the final winning six of their eight matches and RCB huffed and puffed, losing half their group games.

Hindustan Times – your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

Also Read | MS Dhoni to miss his ‘special’ go-to bowler as CSK incur another injury blow before IPL 2024: Report

On the eve of their second straight final, Lanning sought to stress just that on Saturday.

In the pre-match media conference, the cliche of the final being just another game was thrown around generously by both skippers, while simultaneously Lanning and her RCB counterpart Smriti Mandhana expressed hope to rise to it.

There was also a mutual admiration society brewing between Lanning and Mandhana, who spoke of being awestruck at the Aussie’s clean hitting during India’s tour of Australia in 2016.

“I have always looked up to her, always told myself that if you want to be good at this level, you ought to be able to bat like her. But I’ll keep all that aside tomorrow and focus on the game,” Mandhana smiled.

Lanning returned the niceties, calling the elegant left-handed batter a “proven match-winner”. “We know how dangerous she can be. We would like to avoid her tomorrow,” she said of Mandhana.

Both have led from the front. Lanning’s inspirational leadership and crackling form — she is DC’s leading scorer with 308 runs — has been the lifeblood of DC’s campaign that has seen them go on a four-match unbeaten run. Their two losses — against Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz — came on the last, and penultimate, ball, indicating their stomach for the scrap.

RCB have been a study in contrast. Having started their tournament with consecutive wins, they lost four of their next five matches.

But just when it appeared their elimination was at hand, they found a saviour in Ellyse Perry. The talismanic Aussie turned the game around twice in the space of four nights as RCB trumped defending champions MI to march into their maiden final.

Perry, the orange Cap holder with 312 runs, will be in focus again, especially with Mandhana’s form tapering off. The opener had a solid start to this WPL season in the Bengaluru leg of the competition, scoring 219 runs in the first five matches. However, the sluggish Delhi pitch seems to have messed up her timing. A joy to watch when in flow, Mandhana has managed only 50 runs in the four outings at the Kotla, failing to reach 25 even once.

The same surface though has seen RCB bowlers come into their own, especially in the middle overs. Mandhana will take heart from the way her team defended 135/6 on Friday after MI appeared set to overhaul the total. Shreyanka Patil, Sophie Molineux and Asha Sobhana combined for a cumulative return of 3/14 in the last three overs.

“The bowlers were just brilliant the other night. I didn’t have any tricks to tell them, they just did what they did,” the RCB skipper said.

DC have rarely had to work hard for their wins. Barring the one-run win over RCB last week, they have been dominant in their wins and resolute in their losses. Besides Lanning, DC will rely on Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues to fire. Verma has provided the fireworks at the top while aggregating 265 runs at a strike of 155, emerging DC’s second highest scorer. Jemimah, meanwhile, has played some crucial knocks in the middle order, her 235 runs also coming at an excellent strike rate of 155.

On the bowling front, Purple Cap holder Marizanne Kapp and Jess Jonassen with 11 wickets apiece will lead DC’s charge with Radha Yadav (10) and Shikha Pandey (8) providing support. RCB don’t have a standout bowler, but they have held their own as a unit. To Patil, Molineux and Sobhana, throw in the medium pace of Perry and we have an attack that appears more than a sum of its parts.

Either way, WPL will have a new winner on Sunday, ending a trophy drought for both franchises. In IPL, DC have made one final in 16 attempts, while RCB have made it to three finals without managing to lift the trophy.

Asked about the impending slice of history, Mandhana played down the historical failures of the men’s teams.

“It was very important for us to not connect our performances with what happens with the men. That puts added pressure. Our thought from the very beginning was to not put too much stress on ourselves thinking about what has happened over the last 15 years,” she said.

“We are focussed on the process. There won’t be any overnight changes in the way we train. We will take it as just another game.”


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Must See

More in News