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Smriti Mandhana keeps RCB’s date with history as Bangalore claim maiden WPL title with 8-wicket win over DC

Delhi Capitals lose their second WPL final in a row after a batting collapse with Royal Challengers winning the final by 8 wickets.

The wait is over for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The much-loved, much-debated franchise with the biggest stars and glitziest ad campaigns finally has a title, and it has taken them 16 years to get here. RCB Women have taken only a second edition of the Women’s Premier League to come up victorious though.

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Sophie Molineux (R) celebrates with captain Smriti Mandhana (L) after taking the wicket of Delhi Capitals’ Shafali Verma (AFP)

Anil Kumble couldn’t do it in 2009, Daniel Vettori in 2011, Virat Kohli in 2016. On a starlit Sunday night, cheered madly by a vociferous 29,000-strong crowd that had descended on the Ferozeshah Kotla in a sea of Delhi Capitals blue, the unassuming Smriti Mandhana took RCB to their first ever title, beating the home favourites, league toppers and last edition’s finalists with eight wickets and three balls remaining.

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ALSO READ: DC vs RCB Live Cricket Score, WPL 2024 Final

Having restricted DC to 113 runs inside 19 overs, RCB endured a few nervous moments in the chase, but a target of 114 was never going to realistically test them. Their ultra-defensive, safety-first approach meant the what should have been a sub run-a-ball chase petered out in the middle overs, leaving them to go at seven an over in the last four overs. Importantly for them, RCB had Ellyse Perry in the middle to shepherd them through the defining phase.

Needing 19 off the last three overs, Perry found the crucial boundary off Jess Jonassen to bring the equation down to under run-a-ball going into the last two overs. Another four off Alice Capsey in the next over all but sealed the deal but RCB still needed five off the last over.

Arundhati Reddy conceded singles off the first two balls but when Richa Ghosh swung her length ball over cover for the winning hit, Kotla rose in unison, reverberating with chants for the winners.

While Ghosh and Perry deservedly took the late glory, RCB’s win was forged on the back of some exemplary middle overs bowling that, not for the first time this season, proved to be more than the sum of its parts.

Coming into Sunday’s final, no RCB bowler featured among the top five wicket takers of the season, a list that had three DC bowlers led by South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp (11 wickets). By the time the DC innings met its premature end, the RCB trio of Shreyanka Patil, Asha Shobhana and Sophie Molineux had all zoomed past Kapp’s tally.

The three spinners produced a combined haul of 46/9 in 11 overs, breaking the back of DC batting and all but sealing RCB’s date with history at the halfway.

DC got off to a flier thanks to a typically fearless 27-ball 44 from opener Shafali Verma. The belligerent 20-year-old lived up to her reputation on the big night, making full use of the field restrictions to pummel Renuka Singh, Perry and Molineux for a six apiece inside the powerplay.

Renuka Singh and Perry, looking for early swing, kept pitching the ball up but the absence of any movement in the air and off the pitch meant Verma could plant her front foot and swing through the line. By the end of the powerplay, DC had motored to 61/0 and were looking good for an imposing total.

That didn’t happen though. The slide began in the eighth over when Verma mistimed her slog sweep off Molineux and Georgia Wareham pouched a straightforward catch at long on. Two balls later, she tossed one up to Jemimah Rodrigues and the right hander missed her attempted sweep to be bowled. Next ball, Alice Capsey went for a paddle sweep but failed to connect and the ball thudded into the stumps. Having lost their top order in the space of four balls, DC batters went into a shell even as RCB tightened the noose.

ALSO READ: ‘Watch out Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant’: Ravi Shastri’s razor-sharp warning in DC vs RCB WPL 2024 final

The introduction of Shreyanka Patil exacerbated matters for the home side. The off-spinner who had played a pivotal role in RCB’s win over defending champions Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator, again came to the party. Not hesitant to flight the ball, Patil found the length quickly and got rid of DC skipper Meg Lanning in her first over. From 10-an-over, DC’s run rate began to plunge alarmingly as Shobhana struck at the other end, her leg-breaks proving too good for Kapp and Jonassen.

Mandhana, getting the pulse of the game, rotated her spinners through the middle overs, offering little pace or room for DC batters to work with. The middle-overs (6-16) produced returns of 39/7 for DC. Only three fours came in this period — two in the same over — including a 47-ball stretch of no boundaries. The slog overs were no different as DC lost the remaining side for the addition of 13 runs to put RCB on the cusp of history. And when the moment arrived, the women in red didn’t disappoint.


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