Recent Match Report – GG Women vs UPW Women 18th Match 2023/24

Gujarat Giants 152 for 8 (Mooney 74*, Wolvaardt 43, Ecclestone 3-38) beat UP Warriorz 144 for 5 (Deepti 88*, Khemnar 36*, Shabnam 3-11) by eight runs

Gujarat Giants kept their hopes of a playoff spot alive with a nerve-wracking win over UP Warriorz that went down to the final over. It was only the fourth win for Giants across two seasons, and their smallest margin of victory after the advantage see-sawed all through the game.

Laura Wolvaardt and Beth Mooney gave Giants a good start with an opening stand of 60 inside eight overs, but a mini-collapse saw them teeter on 73 for 3. Warriorz spinners squeezed the middle order and left them at 120 for 7 after 18 overs, but Mooney’s unbeaten 74 allowed Giants to post a competitive 152.

At 4 for 3 and then 35 for 5 in response, Warriorz appeared completely out of the contest, but Deepti Sharma hauled them back into contention with her third successive half-century. She shared a 109-run stand with Poonam Khemnar, and threatened to pull off a massive heist by batting to the final over. Warriorz needed 18 off the last five balls and lost by just eight runs, but have much more than the batting to blame.

In total, Warriorz have dropped 16 catches in the tournament according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data, including two in this game. Mooney was put down on 42 and 50, and finished on 74*, and was the difference between Giants probably getting restricted to 120 and eventually scoring 152.

Letting her off was a source of great annoyance for Warriorz, and top wicket-taker Sophie Ecclestone did not hold back with her criticism. “I wish my team could catch the ball sometimes,” she told the broadcaster at the innings break.

Because they couldn’t, Warriorz will have to hope Royal Challengers Bangalore lose by a huge margin to Mumbai Indians on Tuesday, and Delhi Capitals beat Giants on Thursday for Warriorz to have a chance of making it to the Eliminator. Giants, on the other hand, must win their final game by a big margin and hope Royal Challengers lose big.

The wonder of Wolvaardt

Wolvaardt’s assurance as a T20 player has continued to grow, and there is no better indication of that than her partnership with Mooney in this match. She kept strike for most of the first five overs and raced to 32 off 21 balls – peppered with her classic cover drives, but more aggressive ones – while Mooney was confined to 8 from 9.

Then, in the final over of the powerplay, Wolvaardt advanced down the track and hit Rajeshwari Gayakwad over mid-off for a six so sensational that Mooney was left gobsmacked at the other end. Wolvaardt went on to make 43 off 30 before she took the proactive approach too far and was well outside her crease when she was beaten by Ecclestone and stumped.

Warriorz’s spinners come back, but fielders don’t

Four balls after Ecclestone’s breakthrough, Chamari Athapaththu tempted Dayalan Hemalatha into an expansive drive, which she went for without moving her feet, and edged to Alyssa Healy. Two overs after that, Deepti had Phoebe Litchfield caught at long-on. Giants lost three wickets for 13 runs and were kept fairly quiet for the next seven overs.

After 18 overs, they were 120 for 7, but Mooney was still there and had been dropped. After making fielding errors all tournament, Warriorz’s most costly ones came when Mooney chipped Ecclestone to Shweta Sehrawat at extra cover but the latter couldn’t hold on. Mooney was on 42 at the time. In the next over, on 50, Mooney hit Deepti to deep midwicket, and Khemnar spilled a simple chance.

Sensational Shabnam Shakil

If 16-year old Shabnam Shakil thought it would not get better than getting Nat Sciver-Brunt as her first WPL wicket, she was wrong. Two days after dismissing one of the best players in the game, she added two more to her list – and both in the same over.

In defence of 152, Shakil opened the bowling and watched as Healy hit her first ball through backward point for four. She didn’t offer as much width with her second ball, though, and Healy couldn’t get the drive away. And then Shakil struck. Healy was too early trying to smash Shakil out of the ground and skied her to mid-off where Mannat Kashyap took a good catch.

The next challenge for Shakil was Athapaththu, and she was ready for it. Athapaththu was forced to defend the first ball and then beaten with the second one. In frustration, Athapaththu swung at the last ball of the over but sent it to Ash Gardner at extra cover, and Warriorz were 4 for 2 in the first over. Shakil came back after the powerplay to bowl Sehrawat with a delivery that nipped back, beat the outside edge and found off stump.

Deepti keeps the dream alive

Though Warriorz can be critical of many aspects of their performance, one of the players they have to celebrate is Deepti. After her match-winning heroics against Capitals on Friday, and her 2 for 22 against Giants, which made her Warriorz’s most economical bowler on the night, Deepti gave the batting some respectability with her third successive fifty.

Her ability to pace an innings through the middle overs and her scoring rate continue to impress, but her tactical nous was on display too in this match. Deepti took advantage of the short boundary, did what she could to keep herself on strike and took the game deep. Her two sixes in the last over were not just the highlight of her knock but also saw her leapfrog Meg Lanning as the tournament’s leading run-scorer at this stage.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket

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