Mandhana’s match-winning knock helps Trailblazers clinch a thriller

Chennai: The Women’s T20 challenge got off to a great start with Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers withstanding the onslaught of hard-hitting Harmanpreet Kaur to pull-off a thrilling two-run win over Supernovas in the opening game, here on Monday.

Chasing 141, Supernovas needed 19 off the final over. Skipper Harmanpreet (46 not out off 34) almost got her team over the line with some sensational hitting but veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami held her nerve after being smashed for four consecutive boundaries. In the end, Supernovas ended agonisingly short at 138 for six.

Before Harmanpreet’s cameo, it was explosive opener and Trailblazers skipper Smriti Mandhana who enthralled the Jaipur crowd with a match-winning 90 off 67 balls. Mandhana took the team to a fighting total after Supernovas opted to field on a slow surface at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

Speaking after the victory, player of the match and captain of Trailblazers Smriti Mandhana said, “The wicket was on the slower side and I felt 140 was enough, we thought we had 15 runs as bonus in the end.”

Stroke making was tough on a rather slow surface and Supernovas had to work hard for every run. After the early fall of New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates, captain Mandhana anchored a 119-run stand with Harleen Deol (36 off 44), who struggled to change gears in challenging conditions.

Speaking about the pressure in the last over, where Harmanpreet nearly pulled off the game, Smriti said “I have seen them do such stuff from the Indian dressing room but to see it from the opposition was really annoying.”

The experienced Jhulan Goswami conceded 16 runs in the last over and asked what went wrong for Jhulan, Smriti said, “We wanted Jhulan to bowl the yorker, but she wasn’t able to execute the yorkers and that’s when Suzie (Bates) came in and asked Jhulan to bowl wide of off stump.”

“Our spinners were excellent and it will really help us in the next game as well,” said the elated skipper after notching up two points on the board. Harmanpreet Kaur, the losing captain credited Sophie Ecclestone, who conceded just conceded two runs in the 19th over. “I knew if I was going to play till the end, I had the confidence to win but Sophie bowled the 19th over well and that changed it for us.”

“I think we bowled well in the first ten overs, but we didn’t execute our plans in the last ten. When the ball comes on to the bat, it is hard to get the set batsmen out. I think we threw wickets away when we were set and that was the major problem. Overall, I am really happy both the teams played well,” she added.

NT Bureau