Gujarat Giants’ scintillating batting performance went in vain as they suffered another heartbreaking three-wicket defeat against the UP Warriorz in their final league match of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Monday, March 20.
The Giants rode on twin fifties from Dayalan Hemalatha (57) and Ashleigh Gardner (60) to post 178/6 in their 20 overs. In reply, Tahlia McGrath (57) and Grace Harris (72) powered the Warriorz to another thrilling victory.
Earlier, Giants’ captain Sneh Rana won the toss and opted to bat first. They made one change, bringing in Monica Patel in place of Sabbhineni Meghana. On the other hand, the Warriorz remained unchanged from their previous game.
Openers Sophia Dunkley and Laura Wolvaardt got the Giants off to a brilliant start as the duo smashed four fours and two sixes in the first four overs.
However, the Giants later suffered a massive blow as in-form Wolvaardt was cleaned up by left-arm pacer Anjali Sarvani for a 13-ball 17.
Dunkley soon departed as she was dismissed by left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad for 23.
Gayakwad later scalped her second wicket as she removed Harleen Deol for 4.
Having lost three wickets for 50 runs at the end of the first six overs, vice-captain Ashleigh Gardner joined Dayalan Hemalatha at the crease.
The pair played some attacking cricket to put the pressure back on the UPW’s bowling line-up.
Gardner and Hemalatha forged a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket to bring the Giants back into the game.
Meanwhile, Hemalatha continued to hammer boundaries to all parts of the ground to notch up her maiden WPL fifty off just 32 balls.
Looking to up the ante, Hemalatha perished to Parshavi Chopra for a 33-ball 57. Her innings was laced with six fours and three sixes.
At the other end, Gardner kept the momentum going as she slammed Chopra for a six and later hit Deepti Sharma for a boundary to bring up her second fifty in the ongoing WPL.
In the 19th over, Chopra removed Gardner as the Australian batter was stumped by her compatriot Alyssa Healy. Gardner’s impressive knock of a 39-ball 60 included six fours and three sixes.
Towards the end, Sushma Verma (8 not out) and Ashwani Kumar (5) propelled the Giants to 178/6 in their 20 overs.
Defending 179, the Giants got off to a great start as left-arm pacer Monica Patel bagged the massive wicket of Healy for 12.
Giants’ star pacer Kim Garth soon joined the party as she removed Kiran Navgire for run-a-ball 4.
Following Navgire’s dismissal, Tahlia McGrath joined Devika Vaidya in the middle. The duo added 20 runs off just 12 balls before Vaidya perished to Tanuja Kanwer for 7.
With the score reading 39/3 in 4.5 overs, Grace Harris walked into bat. McGrath and Harris forged a sensible partnership to keep the Warriorz in the chase.
McGrath attacked the GG bowlers to bring up her fifty off just 34 balls.
In the 14th over, star all-rounder Gardner provided the Giants the much-needed breakthrough as she removed McGrath for 57.
GG continued to pick up wickets as skipper Rana soon dismissed Deepti Sharma for 6.
With 49 runs required off 30 balls, Sophie Ecclestone joined Grace Harris at the crease.
Harris though kept the momentum going as she slammed Kanwer for a boundary to record her second fifty against the Giants in the WPL.
Garth later scalped the huge wicket of Harris in the 19th over as the Australian batter departed for a 41-ball 72.
Captain Rana took the responsibility to defend seven runs in the final over. After conceding just four runs in the first three balls, the Giants sent Simran Shaikh back in the pavilion after a run-out.
However, Ecclestone later sweeped Rana past short fine leg for a boundary to secure another thrilling win for the Warriorz.
With the nail-biting victory, the Warriorz have sealed their spot in the WPL 2023 playoffs.
Having accumulated four points from eight matches, the Giants will aim to bounce back stronger in the upcoming edition of the WPL.