Mithali Raj’s Velocity overcame some anxious moments late in the innings before registering a three-wicket win over Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers in the second match of the Women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur on Wednesday.
In a low-scoring match on a slow pitch, Velocity first restricted Trailblazers to 112/6 after opting to bowl and then chased down the target with 12 balls to spare, despite losing five wickets in the space of six balls.
After their five-wicket win over Supernovas in the tournament-opener on Tuesday, a victory over Velocity would have sealed Trailblazers’ place in Saturday’s summit clash. In the final league match on Thursday, Velocity will play Supernovas and the outcome of that game will decide the finalists.
Opting to field, Trailblazers lost captain Mandhana early and could not recover from that. Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht (2/13) and New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr (2/21) shared four wickets between them to restrict them to a below-par score.
Harleen Deol top-scored for Trailblazers with 43, while opener Suzie Bates made 26. Mandhana made a run-a-ball 10 while Deepti Sharma scored 16 off 16 deliveries towards the end to take Trailblazers past the 110-run mark.
In response, after the early dismissal of Hayley Matthews, 15-year-old Shafali Verma showed why she is so highly rated with a solid 34 off 31 (5x4s, 1x6). Sent at one down, England’s Danielle Wyatt was the top-scorer with 46 off 35 (5x4s, 2x6s) accelerating the scoring to set the platform for an easy chase.
After the dismissals of Verma and Wyatt, Raj (17 off 22) looked set to finish off the chase before Velocity lost five quick wickets – three in the 18th over bowled by Deepti Sharma – with just two runs needed for victory.
While Veda Krishnamurthy was run out for a first-ball duck after a mix-up, Deepti cleaned up the experienced Raj with a yorker with the first ball of the 18th over before going through the defence of Shikha Pandey a ball later.
Off the fifth ball of the same over, Deepti claimed her fourth scalp of the day when she bowled Kerr to raise hopes of an improbable win for her side, but it was not to be.
By virtue of this win, Velocity are on top of the standings just ahead of Trailblazers with Supernovas yet to open their account.