Trailblazers defended 118 with a brilliant bowling display to topple defending champions Supernovas by 16 runs and win their first Women’s T20 Challenge trophy on Monday.

The final turned out to be a low-scoring affair on a difficult pitch but Trailblazers captain Smriti Mandhana scored a fluent 68 off 49 which laid the foundation of a par score. In response to Trailblazers’ 118/8, Supernovas could only manage 102/7. Bangladesh star Salma Khatun (3/18) eclipsed Radha Yadav’s (5/16) sensational five-wicket haul to fashion a comprehensive win for her team.

Nonetheless, it was a welcome return to the field for Indian players who were out of action since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the dew around, pitches have played better in the second half of the IPL but Supernovas found it tough from the word go on a slow surface. After their spinners did well to restrict Trailblazers to a modest total, Supernovas were at the receiving end with left-arm spinners Sophie Ecclestone (1/26) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad keeping things tight.

Ecclestone trapped the in-form Chamari Atapattu (6) in front in her first over for a crucial breakthrough before off-spinner Deepti Sharma (2/9) had Taniya Bhatia (14) caught at mid-wicket to leave Supernovas struggling at 30/2 in seven overs.

The partnership between Jemimah Rodrigues (13) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (30 off 36) promised a lot until the former was sent back, courtesy a brilliant catch at cover point by Thai player Nattakan Chantam.

Despite their experienced skipper in the middle, Supernovas were not able to break the shackles, leaving them to get 44 off the last five overs. Harmanpreet was also struggling with a injury that caused her to limp for most of her innings which was eventually ended by Khatun, sealing the game for her team.

Earlier, Mandhana was in full flow after Harmanpreet put the Trailblazers in to bat.

However, her effort was the only bright spot for the Trailblazers in what turned out to be an ordinary batting effort after they were 71 for no loss in 11 overs. Radha Yadav, who bowled a match-winning final over against the same opponents on Saturday, ended with figures of 5/16 in four overs.

Mandhana’s cover drives were as delightful as her three straight sixes and it seemed she was batting on a different surface. Her opening partner Deandra Dottin (20 off 32) got a start but struggled to find the the boundaries.

Mandhana got going by smashing offie Anuja Patil for a couple of fours and a maximum in the second over. The southpaw was happy to bat first and at 56 for no loss in seven overs, the Trailblazers looked like on course for a 150-plus total.

However, runs dried up after the powerplay with the ball getting older. The experienced spin duo of Poonam Yadav and Shashikala Siriwardene cut the flow of runs with their accurate spells, picking up a wicket each in the process.

Mandhana got stumped off Siriwardene in the 15th over and after that, it was all downhill for her team. Yadav ran through the opposition batting line-up with three wickets in the 20th over.