Mumbai Indians will square off with Delhi Capitals in the title clash of the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
Both teams have had a remarkable journey in WPL so far. Delhi Capitals finished at the top of the points table with six wins, two losses and 12 points to get a direct ticket to the final. Mumbai Indians, the second-placed team with six wins, two losses and 12 points, advanced to the final after beating a third-placed UP Warriorz by 72 runs in the eliminator.
Both teams have a great mixture of star power and exciting young talent. This has helped them secure their respective spots in the final.
Mumbai Indians skipper Harmanpreet Kaur is following in the footsteps of her male counterpart Rohit Sharma really well, who has led the franchise to five titles in the Indian Premier League (IPL). A WPL title win will do wonders for her career and her franchise, which has a highly loyal fanbase across the country. It will start a new era in women's cricket history. With 244 runs in eight innings at an average of over 40 and three fifties, Kaur will be one of the stars to watch out for in the summit clash.
MI will have to make sure that its explosive opening pair of Yastika Bhatia (210 runs in nine matches at a strike rate of over 111) and Hayley Matthews (258 runs in 9 matches, with one fifty and a strike rate of over 127) does not falter when it matters the most and it rains boundaries and sixes right from the start.
In both the matches they lost, MI's batting let them down. The side will have to ensure that it does not happen again in the final.
The biggest strength of MI is the presence of all-round talent on the side. Matthews has also taken 13 wickets besides doing well with her willow. Nat Sciver-Brunt (272 runs in nine matches with two fifties at a strike rate of 149.45 and 10 wickets), Amelia Kerr (135 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 129.80 and 13 wickets) have provided the side with balance and variety that other teams would envy. Heather Graham, Pooja Vastrakar, Chloe Tryon, Amanjot Kaur and Humaira Kazi have not been utilised much, but their presence is proof of MI's excellent bench strength.
Saika Ishaque, the 27-year-old spinner from Bengal, positioned second in the bowling charts with 15 wickets in nine matches, will be an 'X-Factor' for Mumbai in the summit clash. Issy Wong, who took the first-ever WPL hat-trick in the eliminator, also has 12 wickets and is capable of scoring some valuable runs with her bat.
Delhi Capitals on the other hand boasts of just as much ammunition, if not more, than MI. The opening pair of skipper Meg Lanning (310 runs in eight matches with a strike rate of 141.55 and two fifties) and Shafali Verma (241 runs in eight matches with a strike rate of 182.57 and two fifties) have single-handedly won matches for the franchise, sometimes chasing down totals in less than 10 overs. The attacking intent and range of shots displayed by these two make DC an exciting batting unit.
In the middle-order, DC has performers who are more than 100 per cent capable of delivering in clutch situations. Jemimah Rodrigues (117 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 130.00) has often served her team well with short, but crucial knocks. Alice Capsey is an exciting talent as well. This 18-year-old all-rounder from England smashes sixes at will and makes use of her off-break spin to get some big wickets. She has scored 159 runs in six innings at an average of 31.80 and taken six wickets. The all-round capabilities of Marizanne Kapp (159 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 127.20 and nine wickets) and Jess Jonassen (77 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 145.28 and eight wickets) add a lot to the side.
DC's bowling unit is just as exciting as its batting unit. All-rounders Capsey, Kapp, Jonassen have delivered fiery spells to bring their opponents down. Shikha Pandey (10 wickets), USA's pacer Tara Norris (7 wickets) are wicket-taking bowlers. Wickets often come in bunches with a bowling line-up as talented as this. As suggested by numbers, DC's spin attack has been dominant. Shikha, Kapp and Norris have 26 wickets among them as compared to Jonassen and Capsey, who have taken 14 wickets combined. Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Titas Sandhu and Arundhati Reddy have not been utilised much, but present their side with a lot of options.
Whatever the result may be, fans are pretty much set for an exciting game of cricket which will go a long way in positioning WPL as a tournament to watch out for, to anticipate in future.
Mumbai Indians Women Squad: Hayley Matthews, Yastika Bhatia(w), Nat Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet Kaur(c), Melie Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Issy Wong, Amanjot Kaur, Humaira Kazi, Jintimani Kalita, Saika Ishaque, Heather Graham, Chloe Tryon, Dhara Gujjar, Sonam Yadav, Neelam Bisht, Priyanka Bala
Delhi Capitals Women Squad: Meg Lanning(c), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey, Jess Jonassen, Arundhati Reddy, Taniya Bhatia(w), Radha Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Jasia Akhtar, Laura Harris, Tara Norris, Minnu Mani, Aparna Mondal, Titas Sadhu, Sneha Deepthi. (ANI)