Mumbai Indians Beat 207 for 5 (Harmanpreet 65, Matthews 47, Kerr 45*) Gujarat giants 64 (Ishaque 4-11) with 143 runs
Harmanpreet found herself at center in the ninth over, with Mumbai on 69 for 2. She saw off a set batsman in Nat Sciver-Brunt after a 54-run partnership with Hayley Matthews, who was also sacked in the next over to leave Mumbai . at 77 for 3. Following her Player of the Series performance in the T20 World Cup, Ashleigh Gardner had made another mark.
But Harmanpreet didn’t care. She just attacked the ball, as she has been doing for India for a long, long time. A lucky outside edge in an attempted drive got her going before she timed a Sneh Rana ball through extra cover.
But that was just foreplay. The 12th past showed Harmanpreet at her Harmanbest. And it was obviously filled with sweep shots – one by a back square leg and another by a forward square leg. Georgia Wareham, the bowler, could do little to stop the runs. Even Gardner felt the full force – and reach – of Harmanpreet’s sweep, one ball hitting powerfully through midwicket, the next deftly paddled past short penalty.
And all this despite little practice in the run-up.
“Excercise karne ko mila hi nahi (I couldn’t get time to practice)!” she said of her training after the knock. “There was very little time and I had a lot of commitments as a player and captain.”
But the key for the “overthinker” in Harmanpreet was to calm herself down and bring clarity to her thoughts and get herself “in the zone.”
“When I’m calmer and in the moment, it helps bring clarity,” she said. Being in that zone isn’t easy, but when I’m calm it gives me clarity. Being in that zone isn’t easy, but I have to keep talking to myself and being in the present. When I’m in that zone, I’m clearer in choosing my areas. When I’m in the zone things get easy for me and today was that day I was relaxed”.
Matthews’ fireworks complement Harmanpreet
If Harmanpreet’s knock was the fire, Matthews’ quick start at the top was the spark Mumbai needed to announce themselves in the WPL. Known for their slow start in the IPL – often losing the first few games before embarking on a winning run – Matthews began the hard-hitting performance for Mumbai that really put them on track to kick off with a win. She played a pick-up shot on Sear Mansi Joshi’s first pitch over a deep square leg before cutting a back point for four. She then drove left arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar through covers to complete the power play on 22 of Mumbai’s 44.
Matthews, who announced herself on the world stage with a half-century in the 2016 T20 World Cup final in India, then showed why she scores high with a display of hitting three sixes in the space of seven balls. She first threw a full ball over the seagull Annabel Sutherland’s long leg before simply pushing forward and lifting her over the cow corner a few deliveries later. In the next round, she again scraped her front leg and used her reach to hit her long.
Matthews then used the depth of her crease to punch Gardner through cover point before the latter got the upper hand for a 31-ball 47.
Giants were never on the hunt in their 206-run chase, especially after captain Beth Mooney stumbled off the field in the first over because she may have injured her knee. Sciver-Brunt then had Harleen Deol skype one to deep third of her first ball through a leading edge before castleing S Meghana. In the meantime, the pace of fast bowler Issy Wong undid Gardner for a first-ball duck as Giants lost three wickets in 15 balls. Bengal left arm spinner Saika Ishaque then raced through the middle order to destroy any hope Giants might have had of a resurgence. Only Dayalan Hemalatha – 29 not out – and Patel finished ahead of them in double digits.
Mumbai had just started to find the next gear with Harmanpreet and Kerr in the middle and were 124 for 3 after 13 overs. But Patel’s second over really helped them take full control. She curved full and out around the stumps, which Kerr drove through the cover point. A single later, Harmanpreet ripped the left arm bowling apart.
Harmanpreet drove her through cover point first and when Patel switched to over the wicket she squared her through leg. Patel then went full and out only to be ridden by blankets. The last of four in that room was perhaps the best of them all – Harmanpreet opened the front of her bat just a tiny bit to drive it right through the covers. A total of 21 were scored in that over.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo