After posting a mammoth 207/5, powered by captain Harmanpreet Kaur‘s sensational 30-ball 65 laced with 14 boundaries, Mumbai Indians’ bowlers led by Saika Ishaque (4/11) produced a superb show to restrict Gujarat Giants to just 64/9 in 15.1 overs and make a dream start to the competition.
Gujarat Giants captain Beth Mooney suffered an injury in the first over and retired hurt after initial checkup on the field, and could not return to bat again.
Mumbai Indians not only dominated Gujarat Giants right from the start but also showcased their aggressive style of play both with the bat and the ball in the first game itself, delighting a fairly-packed crowd.
India and Mumbai Indians captain Kaur recorded the first-ever half-century of WPL with stunning strokeplay and added 89 runs from just 42 balls with New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr (45 not out from 24 balls, 6x4s, 1×6) after Hayley Matthews provided the initial fireworks.
Kaur’s innings was straight out of textbook for all the domestic players watching in her team, competition and beyond. She found gaps at will, connected the ball perfectly, and did not give a single chance to the opposition bowlers to capitalise.
But before Kaur’s onslaught, it was the aggressive West Indies batter Matthews who looked set to score the first fifty of the tournament but unfortunately fell just three runs short.Matthews smoked 4 sixes and 3 fours to make 47 from 31 balls and added 54 runs for the second wicket with Nat Sciver-Brunt, an association that laid the platform for a strong first-innings total for the winning side.
England star Sciver-Brunt was in her elements on Saturday night as after smoking 5 fours for her 18-ball 23, she returned an opening spell of 2-0-5-2 that helped derail the Gujarat Giants off the track.
It was certainly a forgettable first outing for Gujarat Giants who did not have much to cheer about.
After their bowlers were hammered all over the park for a grand total of 31 fours and 6 sixes by the Mumbai Indians, the wheels came off completely when they were left tottering at 23/6 after 7.1 overs.
With the pounding received in the first half of the game, the matters became worse for the Gujarat Giants as soon as their chase began.
In the first over, Gujarat Giants’ captain and arguably the best batter in the side, Mooney retired hurt after facing only her third ball. She is believed to have injured her left knee after making a few paces for a run but deciding against it.
On the final delivery, Nat Sciver-Brunt drew the first blood getting Harleen Deol caught at deep third man for a two-ball duck.
The England player returned in the third over to hurt Gujarat Giants further, this time cleaning up opening batter Sabbhineni Meghana for a 4-ball 2.
But before they lost Meghana, Gujarat Giants had suffered a huge blow in the form of Ashleigh Gardner, with Hayley Matthews taking a sharp catch at the first slip off the right-arm pacer Issy Wong to walk back for a golden duck.
Saika Ishaque removed Annabel Sutherland (6) in the fifth over, and returned in the seventh over of the innings to clean up Georgia Wareham (8), making the most of the pressure created by the impressive right-arm seamer Wong from the other end, who gave no room for scoring in her first spell (3-0-7-1).
The left-arm orthodox spinner Saika returned with 3.1-1-11-4.
The pair of Dayalan Hemlatha (29 not out) and Mansi Joshi (6) did their best to delay the inevitable, but Mumbai Indians completed the win with 29 balls to spare.
Earlier in the game, Gujarat Giants’ skipper Mooney decided to take up wicketkeeping duties — something which she hasn’t done regularly in her career — and invited Mumbai Indians to bat after winning the toss.
Mooney’s side made plenty of errors in the field, with the bowlers straying down the leg side more often than not in the first half and fielding poorly, which in a way highlighted the lack of time and opportunity that the WPL teams have got in the lead-up to the tournament.
But before all of that, WPL began with the familiar razzmatazz of a glittering opening ceremony featuring Bollywood actresses Kiara Advani and Kirti Sanon, who performed alongside singer AP Dhillon and the evening sky was lit up by spectacular fireworks.