June 10, 2023

MUMBAI: Mumbai Indians were off the blocks at such a searing pace that at one point it looked like no one would be able halt their juggernaut. But two defeats in the last three matches meant they missed out on an automatic place in the final of the Women’s Premier League. More importantly, it laid bare the chinks in their armour which the UP Warriorz will try to exploit when they square-off against MI in the Eliminator at the DY Patil Stadium on Friday.
MI won their first five matches with ease and outgunned their opponents in both departments. All thanks to skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Yastika Bhatia‘s effort with the bat and Saika Ishaque, Amelia Kerr, Issy Wong along with Matthews and Sciver-Brunt’s guile with the ball.

But the wheels came off MI’s bandwagon in the two defeats they suffered and highlighted the weak links for opponents to work on. The most important one was to put their top-order under pressure and make early in-roads.
The first of that defeat came against Warriorz, who kept taking wickets regularly to restrict them to 127. In the next defeat against Delhi Capitals, they could put up just 109 on the board. Then in their last group match, they stuttered a bit before beating Royal Challengers Bangalore. But MI aren’t worried by those minor slip-ups and are geared-up to take the Warriorz’s challenge head on.

Speaking after their win over RCB, MI all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt wasn’t too concerned about the defeats and believed the team has “got bad loss out of the way”.
“After the five wins, everybody was worried that people weren’t going to get a bat before the knockouts. To have Wongi (Issy Wong) get a couple of scores, Pooja (Vastrakar) as well is good for us,” said the England player, who has scored 200 runs and taken nine wickets in eight matches.

Wong and Vastrakar, who has struggled with injuries, got some runs under their belt against Warriorz and Capitals respectively which further adds depth to their batting.
Warriorz’s displays haven’t been full-proof either and they have heavily depended on their overseas recruits to keep them afloat especially in the batting department. Tahlia McGrath, skipper Alyssa Healy and Grace Harris have scored bulk of their runs in the tournament and when they haven’t, the UP outfit have struggled to get going. Barring Kiran Navgire’s half-century in the opening match, the domestic batters haven’t contributed yet.

Warriorz’s strength is their bowling and that’s what they will depend on to tame the strong MI batting. England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone is the leading wicket-taker in the competition and has led their charge with the ball. Of late, India internationals Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad have found their length.
The performance of 16-year-old leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra have been inspiring in the last two matches and skipper Healy has backed her by bowling her at crucial stages of the match. It won’t be a surprise if Warriorz end up fielding all four spinners in the Eliminator.

What the Australian will hope from her team is that all departments fire in tandem. “We were not good enough in all three facets of the game and we need to fix some things before Friday,” Healy had said after their last group game.

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