Women’s T20 Challenge: Clinical Supernovas up against surprise package Velocity

Supernovas celebrate a wicket © BCCI/IPL

Two-time champions Supernovas got off to a roaring start by defeating defending champions Trailblazers by 49 runs in the opening match of the Women’s T20 Challenge 2022. Deandra Dottin, Harleen Deol and captain Harmanpreet Kaur were the chief contributors with the bat, while Pooja Vastrakar and Sophie Ecclestone did most of the damage with the ball.

They will have less than 24 hours to revel in that win though as they take on Velocity on Tuesday (May 24) in Pune. A win will guarantee them a spot in the final for yet another time.

Velocity, on the other hand, are without Mithali Raj, their captain since their inception. With Raj not being a part of the team, the leadership mantle has fallen on the shoulders of captain Deepti Sharma and vice-captain Sneh Rana.

Velocity do not boast as many big names as the other two teams and six of the 13 uncapped Indian players selected this year are a part of their side but having a lot of relatively unknown and young players might work to their advantage if they play fearlessly.

What’s at stake

Supernovas have historically been the most successful team and they have a chance of keeping their perfect record of making the finals intact with a win on Tuesday.

Velocity, however, will look to get off to a good start and take advantage of any fatigue or tiredness that the Supernovas might be feeling in an afternoon game after playing the previous evening.

What they said:

I love leadership, I have captained at domestic level. Whatever opportunities I get I am ready to take it.

– Deepti Sharma is looking forward to her captaincy debut.

“She is a phenomenal athlete and it’s great to have her on my team. She runs in hard and bowls them fast every ball and she gives them a good whack too.”

– Alana King on Pooja Vastrakar’s all-round excellence.

ALSO READ: Women’s T20 Challenge Preview: Will Supernovas regain bragging rights?

Players to watch out for:

Deepti Sharma:

India’s lead allrounder for much of her career, Deepti Sharma was dropped midway through the World Cup after being shuffled up and down the batting order before she was brought back for the crucial match against South Africa.

It was a topsy turvy few weeks for her as she was named vice-captain for a couple of matches on the New Zealand tour before the World Cup, where she struggled to get going.

Deepti’s strike rate has always been a talking point and she has worked hard to address that issue, working on her power hitting and inside out shots.

Her strike rate was again below 100 in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy and her economy rate was also on the higher side. With both Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar overtaking her in the allrounder pecking order, Deepti would want to make a mark in her first big tournament as captain.

It is Deepti’s ability to bowl both in the power play as well as the end overs that has helped her remain a fixture in the Indian team even when her batting has not delivered the goods.

With Supernovas not having any left handers in their top seven batters, it will be interesting to see when Deepti brings herself on. She opened for Bengal in the domestic T20s but might have to play the role of an enforcer or finisher here considering the riches that Velocity have in terms of their top four batters.

ALSO READ: Women’s T20 Challenge Preview: Revamped Velocity all set to spring a few surprises

Deandra Dottin:  

Arguably the most-feared batter in this format, Dottin was on song with the bat, ball and in the field in Supernovas’ opener. She seemed set for a big one before she was dismissed for a brisk 32 from just 17 balls after a mis-communication with Priya Punia.

She then returned to bowl two economical overs with the ball and also pouched a catch in the field. Her contest against Ayabonga Khaka and Kate Cross in the power play might be key to the Supernovas fortunes.

All she needs to do is avoid taking high risk singles. Why bother taking them anyway when you can smite sixes at will?

Numbers:

Head to head: Played 3 matches, Supernovas 2 – 1 Trailblazers

Predicted XI:

Velocity: Shafali Verma, Kiran Navgire, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Laura Wolvaardt, Natthakan Chantham, Deepti Sharma (c), Sneh Rana, Radha Yadav, Kate Cross. Aarti Kedar, Ayabonga Khaka

Supernovas: Priya Punia, Deandra Dottin, Suné Luus, Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Harleen Deol, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Sophie Ecclestone, Mansi Joshi, Meghna Singh, Alana King