Harleen Deol, Sophia Dunkley slam half tons as Giants consign RCB to their third loss
It was a battle of the bottom two. And on a day when the Gujarat Giants announced a replacement for the player on whom they punted, they needed the change in fortune.
The change in fortune came in the form of Sophie Dunkley, with Harleen Deol finally joining in, as the Giants ended their two-match losing streak with an 11-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai.
Electing to bat first, Giants overcame the early loss of opener Sabbhineni Meghana as Dunkley and Deol launched an attack that should inspire Giants in the matches to come.
Interestingly, Dunkley made a cut into the playing XI due to an injury to Giants skipper and wicketkeeper Beth Mooney in the opening match.
But Dunkley looked adamant to make her mark after missing out in the last match – a close three-wicket loss against the UP Warriorz with just a ball to spear.
The England batter slammed the WPL’s fastest half-century, which came in just 18 balls, as she helped the Giants set the tone for the match.
Deol, an immensely talented youngster, had so far failed to make her starts into something crucial – despite her 46 against Warriorz in the second match.
But on Wednesday, March 8, Deol finally came to the ‘Holi party’ with a measured innings that should certainly give her the much-needed confidence.
Deol held up one end and allowed Dunkley to tear apart the rival attack for a 28-ball 65 that saw 11 fours and 3 sixes. It was a performance to remember and came against players of this stature like Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight and Megan Schutt.
On a day when the Giants announced South Africa’s in-form batter Laura Wolvaardt, who surprisingly remained unsold in the auction, as the replacement for their injured skipper Mooney, Dinkley’s performance will surely pose selection headaches for the Giants’ think tank.
While the Giants will surely enjoy the headache, they perhaps sensed a change in fortune as Dunkley and Deol added 60 runs for the second wicket in just five overs. Their performance is a turnaround from their capitulation in the opening match, when a rampant Mumbai Indians wrapped them up for just 64.
Deol continued to do the hard work as she and Ashleigh Gardner (19, 15b, 2×4) added another 53 runs in six overs. Cameos from Dayalan Hemalatha (16, 7b, 2×4, 1×6) and Annabel Sutherland (14, 8b, 1×4, 1×6) helped the Giants post their first 200+ score in the tournament.
Deol top scored with a 45-ball 67 that saw nine fours and a six before becoming the last wicket to fall.
For RCB, the off-spin duo of England skipper Heather Knight and Shreyanka Patil picked both Dunkley and Deol.
RCB, who boasted an impressive batting lineup, once again failed to fire as a team. Skipper Smriti Mandhana appears to have found it hard to carry the tag of being the tournament’s most expensive player. Her struggle against off-spin continues, as she once again falls to the off-spin of Gardner.
Sophie Devine’s 45-ball 66, which saw eight fours and two sixes and her 43-run stand for the second wicket with Perry (32, 25b, 5×4) threatened to mount a tough challenge for the Giants. But to their credit, the Giants bowlers did not lose control. Not even when Knight mounted a counterattack against an unbeaten 11-ball 30, that saw five fours and a six.
Gardner picked three crucial wickets of Mandhana, Richa Ghosh, who had a nightmare of sorts behind the stumps, and Kanika Ahuja, while her Australian teammate Sutherland picked the key wicket of Devine before adding another in Poonam Khemnar.
The Giants surely should cherish this performance, for it showed their ability to bounce back and bounced back in style.
BRIEF SCORE: Gujarat Giants 201/7 (Harleen Deol 67, Sophia Dunkley 65; Heather Knight 2/17, Shreyana Patil 2/32) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 190/6 (Sophie Devine 66, Ellyse Perry 32, Heather Knight 30*; Ashleigh Gardner 3/31, Annabel Sutherland 2/56) by 11 runs