UP Warriorz 129 for 5 (Harris 39, McGrath 38). Mumbai Indians 127 (Matthews 35, Ecclestone 3-15) by five wickets
Ecclestone defeats Ishaque
At one point during Ecclestone’s spell, the broadcasters showed a split screen where she compared her charge and action to Saika Ishaque, the Mumbai left arm spinner. Although Ecclestone is considerably taller than Ishaque, it was her bowling speed that made the difference on the day.
The field, baked under the hot sun, helped slow, spin bowling. Ecclestone, all 23 years old, is a veteran of getting help when conditions are even remotely helpful with turning. Her first wicket was England teammate Nat Sciver-Brunt, who went back to a straight and played over the line and got stuck lbw.
Hayley Matthews is used to playing on slow ground at home in the West Indies and felt comfortable on this pitch. She scored 35 from 29 balls before Ecclestone got hold of one, and Matthews pushed her over the line and was dropped behind by Alyssa Healy. She took her third wicket with a pitch that dipped under Amanjot Kaur’s bat to stump her. Ecclestone conceded just one boundary in four overs as Kiran Navgire let Wong run in from long range.
In contrast, Mumbai’s Ishaque, with whom Ecclestone tied at the top of the WPL wicket charts with 12 scalps, had an unsuccessful game. She finished wicketless for a second game in a row, and her lack of success against UP was because she shot the ball in quite quickly. Two of her faster deliveries – at 89 km/h and 90 km/h – were hit four times by Tahlia McGrath during a crucial phase of the chase.
Mumbai’s punching depth is finally put to the test
Only once had Mumbai lost more than five wickets in their first five matches. Their top and middle league hitters—Matthews, Harmanpreet, and Amelia Kerr—had contributed so regularly that their strength after No. 6 had rarely been tested.
In their previous game against Gujarat Giants, Mumbai almost got into trouble when Wong was out for a first-ball duck, but Harmanpreet got them past 150. Harmanpreet was also key against UP as Mumbai lost Yastika Bhatia, Sciver-Brunt and Kerr cheaply. After a steady start, she appeared to accelerate against the spin, freeing her forefoot to slog through midwicket legsspinner Parshavi Chopra and dab and cut for bounds behind chopra’s point and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. But her aggressive approach failed against Deepti Sharma’s offspin and Mumbai’s lower order was revealed in the 14th over.
They lost their last five wickets in 40 balls for just 49 runs, with most of those runs scored by Wong, who hit 32 from just 19 pitches. Amanjot Kaur, Dhara Gujjar and Humaira Kazi bat in the top and middle order for their state teams, while all-rounder Jintimani Kalita is just 19 years old. The inexperience and lack of power under command hurt Mumbai.
McGrath and Harris counterattack
Warriorz fell to 27 for 3 in 6.1 overs, and Mumbai suddenly looked good to defend their 127 tally. Faced with a repair job without raising the asking price too much, two Australians McGrath and Grace Harris joined forces with the match tied. They were the only Warriorz batters to score by more than a run per ball, and their tally of 44 runs in 5.4 overs put their team back in pursuit.
McGrath was dropped first pitch when the wicket-keeper Bhatia failed to hold on to a catch on Wong, after which both batters feasted on the pace of Sciver-Brunt, Wong and Amanjot. Spin was clearly the order of the day – Warriorz used only two overs from seam – and Mumbai’s tactics to support their teammates backfired, with Wong passing over nine while Amanjot’s took just eleven.
McGrath and Harris were both ultimately dismissed by Kerr’s legspin, and Warriorz needed Deepti and Ecclestone to lead them to victory in the final.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo