Utkarsha Pawar’s terrific bowling display drives Maharashtra into finals

Maharashtra © Maharashtra Cricket Association

An exuberant bowling performance from Utkarsha Pawar guided Maharashtra to a six-wicket win over Baroda in the first semi-final of the ongoing Senior T20 League 2022 at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Monday, May 2.

Maharashtra skipper Smriti Mandhana elected to field first after winning the toss and asked Baroda to set a score on the board. Opener Palak Patel fell early as the pressure of too many dot deliveries got to her.

The same happened to their other opener Tarannum Pathan who was dismissed on the second delivery of the seventh over. Pathan scored only four runs off 22 balls and couldn’t manage to even rotate the strike let alone taking advantage of the powerplay restrictions.

In walked Baroda’s skipper Radha Yadav to partner Yastika Bhatia in the middle but she also fell soon as Aarti Kedar got rid of her in the eighth over. Having reduced to 27 for the loss of three wickets, Baroda were gasping for a pair to stabilise their innings and build a partnership and they found the same in wicket-keeper batter Yastika Bhatia and Jaya Mohite.

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The duo took calculated risks to pick up boundaries and rotated the strike to get Baroda’s innings back on track. Bhatia was more domineering of the two as she asserted her dominance on the Maharashtra bowlers and forced them to rethink their strategy. Her 45-ball 71 included ten fours and one maximum and it made sure that Baroda do not got folded below the 100-run mark.

The Bhatia and Mohite pair put on a 76-run stand to stem the early damage. The partnership finally came to an end as Mukta Magre dismissed Mohite, who scored a run-a-ball 22. Bhatia also fell soon and she was also picked up by Magre in the 19th over. Baroda posted 121 for the loss of seven wickets in their 20 overs.

Chasing 122 to book a place in the final, Maharashtra lost their captain Smriti Mandhana with just 15 runs on the board. The onus of taking them over the line then fell on the duo of Tejal Hasabnis and wicket-keeper batter Shivali Shinde and they didn’t disappoint.

Both batters kept the asking rate in check and never allowed the Baroda bowlers to dictate terms during their stay at the crease. At one stage it seemed that the duo was easily going to steer Maharashtra to a win but the Baroda bowlers had other plans.

Firstly, they dismissed Hasabnis to break her 55-run stand with Shinde and then picked up two more wickets to bring a slight twist in the game. But the lack of runs on the board cost Baroda the game as the experienced campaigner Devika Vaidya (21* runs off 22 balls) steered Maharashtra home by six wickets and five balls to spare.

Brief Scores:

Baroda 121/7 in 20 overs (Yastika Bhatia 71; Utkarsha Pawar 3/21) lost to Maharashtra 125/4 in 19.1 overs (Shivali Shinde 44; Jaya Mohite 1/12 ) by six wickets.