Twin fifties from Sophia Dunkley and Harleen Deol along with Ashleigh Gardner’s three-wicket haul helped Gujarat Giants (GG) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by 11 runs to secure their first win in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday, March 8.
The Giants rode on scintillating fifties from Dunkley (65) and Harleen (67) to post a huge total of 201/7 in their allotted 20 overs. Later, Gardner scalped three wickets to restrict RCB to 190/6 in the chase.
Earlier, Giants’ captain Sneh Rana won the toss and elected to bat first. The Rachael Haynes-coached side remained unchanged from their last match. On the other hand, RCB brought in all-rounder Poonam Khemnar in place of Disha Kasat in their playing XI.
Openers Sophia Dunkley and Sabbhineni Meghana got the Giants off to a decent start. The duo forged a 22-run opening stand before Australian fast bowler Megan Schutt dismissed Meghana for 8.
Giants’ star batter Harleen Deol joined Sophia Dunkley at the crease. Meanwhile, Dunkley smashed the RCB bowlers to all parts of the ground to register the fastest fifty in the WPL. The England batter slammed her maiden WPL fifty off just 18 balls, laced with 10 fours and two sixes.
Dunkley and Harleen added 60 runs off just 30 balls for the second wicket before RCB right-arm off-spinner Shreyanka Patil removed Dunkley for a sensational 28-ball 65.
Following Dunkley’s dismissal, Giants’ star all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner walked into bat at number four.
The two accomplished batters continued to play an attacking brand of cricket to pile more pressure on the RCB bowlers. The pair stitched an impressive 50-run partnership off just 35 balls to put the Giants in a commanding position.
However, Gardner (19) looking to accelerate lost her wicket to Heather Knight as she was stumped by RCB wicket-keeper Richa Ghosh.
With the score reading 135/3 in 13.5 overs, in-form Dayalan Hemalatha joined Harleen in the middle. The duo added quick-fire 22 runs on the board before Knight bagged her second wicket by removing Hemalatha for a 7-ball 16.
At the other end, Harleen continued her good form as she brought up her fifty off 35 balls.
Giants’ Annabel Sutherland (14) and Harleen later forged a 30-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the Australian all-rounder perished to pacer Renuka Singh.
Skipper Rana (2) was soon back in the pavilion after an unfortunate run-out.
RCB spinner Shreyanka later cleaned up Harleen for 67 as the Giants ended their innings with 201/7 on the board.
Defending 202, the Giants got off to a challenging start as RCB openers Smriti Mandhana and Sophie Devine established a 54-run opening stand.
Later in the sixth over, all-rounder Gardner provided the Giants the much-needed breakthrough as she removed RCB captain Mandhana for 18.
Batting at number three, all-rounder Ellyse Perry forged a crucial second-wicket partnership with Devine to keep RCB in the chase. The two batters added 43 runs off 39 balls before Giants’ fast bowler Mansi Joshi got rid of dangerous Perry for a 25-ball 32.
At the other end, New Zealand batter Devine notched up her fifty off 38 balls. She hit eight fours and one six in her innings.
With 77 runs needed off 30 balls, the Giants claimed their third wicket as Gardner cleaned up Richa Ghosh for run-a-ball 10.
In the 17th over, Sutherland scalped the massive wicket of Devine (66) to put the RCB batters under huge pressure.
Heather Knight and Kanika Ahuja later smashed 28 runs off just 11 balls for the fifth wicket to keep RCB alive in the chase. However, Gardner soon removed Ahuja for 10.
Meanwhile, Rana gave Sutherland the final over to defend 24 runs. The Australian pacer got rid of Poonam Khemnar in the first ball of the 20th over to inch closer to victory. Sutherland later gave away just 12 runs in the remaining five balls to guide the Giants to their first win in the WPL.
Having secured their first victory, the Giants have moved to fourth in the WPL 2023 standings with two points from three matches.
The Sneh Rana-led Giants will look to continue their winning momentum when they square off against Delhi Capitals at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Saturday, March 11.