Harmanpreet in smashing form; Mumbai Indians begins in style

In top gear: Harmanpreet toyed with the Giants bowling, smashing 14 fours in her 65. 

In top gear: Harmanpreet toyed with the Giants bowling, smashing 14 fours in her 65. 

It was a dot ball, alright. But Ashleigh Gardner was bowling not just to Yastika Bhatia. She was bowling herself into the history of women’s cricket, too.

A quiet beginning it may have been for the Women’s Premier League at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in front of a big crowd on Saturday, but the storm was not far away.

First, there were some lusty, aerial hits from the West Indian Hayley Matthews. Then came an array of shots all along the ground from Harmanpreet Kaur, all played with the kind of placement and timing you would not often get to see in this frenzied form of cricket.

The knocks from Matthews (47, 31b, 3×4, 4×6), captain Harmanpreet (65, 30b, 14×4), and Amelia Kerr (45 not out, 24b, 6×4, 1×6) ensured that the maiden innings of the WPL was one to remember. But the match wasn’t.

Chasing Mumbai Indians’ 207 for five, the Giants were never in the picture. Mumbai romped home by 143 runs. Even more worryingly for the Giants, their skipper and best batter Beth Mooney got injured and went back to the dressing room after facing just three balls.

MI must be pleased with its effort with the ball. Significantly, For MI, Saika Ishaque, the uncapped left-arm spinner from Bengal, took four for 11.

Earlier, it was indeed a fabulous show by the MI batters, after the early loss of Yastika. Matthews and Nat Sciver-Brunt (23) added 54 for the second wicket before the latter was sent back by Australian leg-spinner Georgia Wareham. That brought to the middle Harmanpreet, who looked determined to leave her mark on this special night. Her 89-run stand with Kerr was simply breathtaking.

The finishing touch was provided by Issy Wong, who swung Sneh Rana over deep midwicket for a massive six.

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