WPL: The UP Warriorz spin web rattles Mumbai Indians’ power hitters

UP Warriorz handed league leaders Mumbai Indians their first defeat in the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) on Saturday. Chasing a below-par 128 runs, Warriorz led by Alyssa Healey defeated the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side by five wickets at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai.

Winning the toss, the mid-table Warriorz side put Mumbai into bat. Hayley Mathews, Harmanpreet Kaur and Issy Wong could not convert their starts. The other batters could not get going on a sluggish pitch, struggling to handle the spin of Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/16), Sophie Ecclestone (3/15) and Deepti Sharma (2/35).

The spin-web by UP Warriorz

With Warriorz bowling 18 overs of spin, the Mumbai batters had no answers to the flight and guile of the UP’s spinners. Whenever it seemed like Mumbai was building a partnership, Gaykwad or Eccelstone or Deepti intervened with a breakthrough. Warriorz read the surface better than their opponents, giving a debut cap to young Indian leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra (0/35), adding another dimension to their spin Arsenal.

Despite having some of the brutal hitters in the tournament with Nat Sciver-Brunt, Hayley Matthews and skipper Kaur, Mumbai have lacked the ability to rotate strike in the middle overs on pitches that are not conducive to batting.

With surfaces increasingly offering more assistance to spin, this might be an Achilles heel for Mumbai for their title aspirations and the required boost for UP who are lingering in the mid-table but have some of the best spinners in the tournament.

Tahlia Mcgrath-Grace Harris saves the day

Defending a low total Mumbai started the second innings with purpose, reducing UP to 27 for 3. However, Mcgrath’s counter-attacking 38 swung back the momentum. But hope floated again when she was lured into giving a return catch by a flighted delivery by Amelia Kerr. The fellow Australian Grace Harris, though, continued to counterattack. When she fell to a brilliant boundary catch by Issy Wong off Kerr, UP looked in a bit of a pickle but the run rate required was under six runs per over. Deepthi and Eccelstone shepherded them home in the third ball of the final over by Wong, who had the unenviable task of defending five runs. After two dot balls in the over, Eccelstone powered one into the stands to finish off the game in style.

The playoff scenario

With the win, UP Warriorz got a step closer to the play-off qualification with six points. After being the first team to lose to Royal Challengers Bangalore, they have bounced back strongly in couple of days. Their season has been up and down so far as every win has been followed by a loss, however, the management would be hoping this is the win that gives them the push. Mumbai are pretty much safe at the top of the table with 10 points and are expected to qualify for the playoffs unless something dramatic happens in this final week of the tournament. The same is the case with Delhi Capital who are second with eight points. Gujarat Giants on four points currently are a threat to UP’s qualification. Hence the game between UP Warriorz and Gujarat Giants on Monday might be a knockout for both sides.

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