Mumbai Indians Beat 159 for 1 (Matthews 77*, Sciver-Brunt 55*) Royal Challengers Bangalore 155 (Ghosh 28, Matthews 3-28, Ishaque 2-26) by 9 wickets
With a great all-round show at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium, Matthews gave everyone, not least the boisterous grandstand next to the viewing screen on the commentators’ side, a polite reminder of the brilliance she can conjure up. One that continues to give the West Indies hope as they appear to be emerging from a low phase.
Royal Challengers were done almost single-handedly by Matthews. After an 11-run opening over in which Smriti Mandhana and Sophie Devine hit a four and a six respectively, she came back in the last over of the power play to dismiss Mandhana. She tossed one out and tricked Mandhana into giving her the attack before the dip and twist meant the batter cut it to point. On the very next ball, she slid into a full ball that went under Heather Knight’s flick to send her off for a first-ball duck.
Matthews had helped Mumbai win the first part of the arm wrestling match against Royal Challengers.
“Looking at match-ups, we thought today was one that really suited me,” said Matthews after her player-of-the-match outing. “After that first time I was a bit under the pump. But [captain Harmanpreet Kaur] had faith in me to throw the ball back and it worked out very well.”
Matthews dispelled any semblance of that hope. She used Renuka Singh’s width to send a past point into the gap before shooting one through the square leg into the third. She then hoisted the left arm spinner Preeti Bose over a deep square leg before going back to a half tracker and slamming it over the covers.
Megan Schutt, who previously scored a 14-ball 20, was next in Matthews’ line of fire. Matthews hit one through the covers first before timing the straight past the bowler as Mumbai ran to 54 for 1 at the end of the power play, with Bose trapping Bhatia for the only wicket in the phase.
Even after the fielding restrictions were lifted, Matthews Renuka hit for two fours in an over, eventually taking her half-century – after narrowly missing in the opening match – to just 26 balls with Mumbai on 95 for 1 at the ten-over. marking. Nat Sciver-Brunt’s gallop was reduced to a postscript.
Subsequently, Mumbai knocked off the remaining 61 runs in 26 balls to record a second booming win. Matthews walked back with a big smile and an unbeaten 77 from just 38 balls with Nat contributing 55 not out 29.
In her last 11 T20I innings, Matthews passed the 30-run mark six times, scoring a score over fifty in only one of those. While she admitted to thinking about this in her 30s and 40s, she also said being the batsman in charge for the West Indies helped her reduce her aggression when needed and become a better T20 player.
“Funnily enough, when I got into my 40s, I thought I had about seven 30s and 40s in my last 10 to 20 turns,” she said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get past the goal in more than one game. For me sometimes it comes down to concentration. I told myself to stay focused and I succeeded.
“Probably being a little bit more accountable at the fold is something I had to do a lot more of with WI and I think that obviously helped me in my T20 game as a whole and it helped me here as well. Probably [I] didn’t get the number of runs I would have wanted in the past because I probably gave my hand away quite a bit. Now that I am forced to take responsibility at an international level, it helps me to realize how to plan my T20 innings.”
After those heroics, just two words explain why Matthews found no picks in the first round of the WPL auction – “auction dynamics”.
Royal Challengers chose to bat and got off to a perfect start. Mandhana hit Matthews for four through covers before Devine launched the slog sweep deep into the midwicket stands. Picking up early, Mandhana hoisted Sciver-Brunt through midwicket. Issy Wong’s first over then saw Mandhana pick three fours – one through the wraps, one through an edge through the empty slip area and one through mid-on.
Bengal’s left arm spinner Saika Ishaque turned the tables to hit the brakes. Devine hit her for a first-ball four in Ishaque’s first over and repeated the drill in her second over as well. Ishaque then slowed it down and tossed it onto the stumps, with Devine again playing the slog. However, she did so directly to the fielder at deep midwicket.
A few balls later, Disha Kasat appeared to charge down and push the ball across the ground, only to be batted and bowled. In the space of three balls, 27-year-old Ishaque had managed to slow down the flying start of the Royal Challengers and make the sparse Brabourne crowd look gargantuan with his roar.
The seeds of trouble had been sown.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo