Women’s T20 Challenge: Smriti Mandhana stars as Trailblazers knocked Supernovas

Harmanpreet Kaur almost pulled off a superb run-chase with 19 runs needed off the last over for Supernovas.

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Trailblazers withstood a late onslaught from Harmanpreet Kaur to pull-off a thrilling two-run win over Supernovas in the opening game of the Women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur on Monday.

Needing 19 off the final over, Supernovas skipper Harmanpreet (46* off 34 balls) almost got her team over the line with some sensational hitting, but veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami held her nerve after being smashed for four boundaries in the over, one of them almost a six.

In response to Trailblazers’ 140/5, Supernovas ended agonisingly short at 138/6 on a slow pitch. Harmanpreet and New Zealander Sophie Devine (32 off 22) took the game deep with a 48-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Birthday girl Sophie Ecclestone, who turned 20, bowled a phenomenal 19th over where she conceded just two runs and picked up the wicket of Devine. That, in Harmanpreet’s words, proved to be the game-changer. The English spinner finished with stunning figures of 2/11 in her four overs.

In what turned out to be an ideal advert for women’s cricket, Harmanpreet’s cameo was overshadowed by Trailblazers skipper Smriti Mandhana who enthralled the Jaipur crowd with a match-winning 90 off 67 balls.

Mandhana took the team to a fighting total after Supernovas opted to field on a slow surface at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

Stroke-making was tight, and though 141 seemed like an easy target, Supernovas had to work hard for every run. Poor fielding let Trailblazers down, but they still managed to get the result they wanted.

After the early dismissal of New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates, captain Mandhana anchored a 119-run stand with Harleen Deol (36 off 44), who played a steady hand but struggled to change gears in challenging conditions.

Both Mandhana and Deol struggled to get going early on as Trailblazers crawled to 25 for one in six overs after Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas opted to field.

After getting used to the slowness of the wicket, the southpaw went for her strokes and even smashed three sixes to go with ten fours. She was dismissed only in the last over.

The BCCI is organising a bigger tournament for the women in comparison to the inaugural edition last year when only a one-off game played. Velocity, led by Mithali Raj, will take on Trailblazers in the next match on Wednesday.

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