Trailblazers will take on Velocity on Thursday in what would be a do-or-die battle for the Smriti Mandhana-led team at Pune in the Women’s T20 challenge 2022. Velocity enter the final round-robin match after a comfortable seven-wicket win over Supernovas in their first match of the competition.
Trailblazers on the other hand lost their first match to Supernovas who currently lead the table with two points. Harmanpreet Kaur’s side has already qualified for the final given their superior net run rate over other teams. Velocity are second with the same number of points but they are behind on NRR. Supernovas have NRR of +0.912 as against Velocity’s +0.736. With teams having only two matches in the round-robin round, Trailblazers must win on Thursday to have a chance of reaching the final.
Just a victory, however, would not be enough as they have to win comprehensively to better their NRR (-2.450) to edge past Velocity into the final. Velocity on the other hand just need a win to qualify for the final. They can also take part in the summit clash despite a defeat if Trailblzaers fail to edge them in the NRR race.
Shafali Verma: The Haryana opener is setting a benchmark of her own in Indian cricket. The teenager has a strike rate of 141.12 in T20Is — the highest among Indian players to have scored 100 or more runs in the format. In the game against Supernovas, Shafali cracked the fastest fifty of the tournament in just 30 balls. If she unleashes another carnage from the top on Thursday then it could get difficult for Trailblazers to qualify for the final.
Smriti Mandhana: There are few bigger players in world cricket than Mandhana to look out for. The stylish left-handed opener got off to a solid start in the opening game, scoring 34 off 23 for Trailblazers in pursuit of 164, but a freak Priya Punia catch brought her innings to a close. Her dismissal sparked a collapse and Trailblazers were shot out for 114. Defending champions Trailblazers would need their star player to fire on all cylinders as they look to do the unthinkable against Velocity.
Velocity have so far given opportunities to two uncapped players in their first match. Leg-spinner Maya Sonawane got a lot of attention for her unique bowling style, though she only bowled two overs for 0/19. Velocity may continue with her or could ask left-arm spinner Aarati Kedar to have a go. The Maharashtra spinner was the highest wicket-taker in the recent Senior Women’s T20 Trophy with 13 scalps. However, it is tough to see them changing the winning combination.
Kiran Navgire was also part of Velocity’s team against Supernovas. She did not get to bat but the attacking batter was the highest run-getter in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy with 525 runs for Nagaland from seven matches. Her highest score was 162 not out and she struck at a strike rate of over 172. She will hope to get some batting opportunity against the Trailblazers.
Trailblazers did not play a single uncapped player in their match against Supernovas and are expected to stick to the same formula.
Match-up to look out for
Velocity bowlers vs Trailblazers batters: Trailblazers have good bowlers but their strength lies in their batting. They have solid five batters in their top six in Mandhana, Hayley Matthews, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sophia Dunkley and Richa Ghosh. Velocity, on the other hand, are a very balanced side with a fearsome bowling attack of Kate Cross, Ayabonga Khaka, Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana. While the Trailblazers batters would be on the lookout for a blazing performance, the onus will be on Velocity bowlers to guide their side to the final.
Velocity: Shafali Verma, Natthakan Chantham, Yastika Bhatia(w), Laura Wolvaardt, Deepti Sharma(c), Kiran Navgire, Sneh Rana, Radha Yadav, Kate Cross, Ayabonga Khaka, Maya Sonawane, Keerthi James, Shivali Shinde, Simran Bahadur, Aarti Kedar, Pranavi Chandra
Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana(c), Hayley Matthews, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sophia Dunkley, Sharmin Akhter, Richa Ghosh(w), Arundhati Reddy, Salma Khatun, Poonam Yadav, Renuka Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Sabbhineni Meghana, Priyanka Priyadarshini, Saika Ishaque, Shradda Bhau Pokharkar, Sujata Mallik