Virat Kohli gave a pep talk to the beleaguered women of Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday. That seemed to have worked.
RCB, after losing five matches in a row, finally won a game in the Women’s Premier League. Its five-wicket victory against UP Warriorz came in a desperate situation: another loss would have meant the end of the road.
RCB reached the modest target with two overs to spare, but not without going through some anxious moments. It had lost its vastly experienced top four batters with 60 on the board. Among them was skipper Smriti Mandhana, whose horrendous time continued; she was out for a duck.
But, the uncapped youngster Kanika Anuja, who played probably the innings of her life (46, 30b, 8×4, 1×6) and wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh (31 n.o., 32b, 3×4, 1×6) did the job. They added 60 for the fifth wicket, and after Kanika was yorked by Sophie Ecclestone, Richa’s six and four off successive balls ensured the win for RCB.
RCB would still need a lot of help from other teams to entertain hopes of making the playoffs. The race is open to determine which two sides will join Mumbai Indians in that stage.
Earlier, on a wicket that encouraged both the seamers and spinners, RCB bowled superbly. Ellyse Perry was the most successful bowler with three for 16 off her four overs.
It all started with an inspired decision to give the first over to Sophie Devine that put the Warriorz innings under pressure right away. She sent back both the openers, Devika Vaidya and Alyssa Healy, in that over.
When Megan Schutt had fellow-Australian Tahila McGrath caught behind, Warriorz slid to five for three. Then Asha’s leg spin came into play. She got the ball to turn and bounce. She removed Kiran Navgire, who was living dangerously, and Simran Shaikh in successive overs.
A sixth-wicket stand of 69 between Grace Harris (46, 32b, 5×4, 2×6) and Deepti Sharma 22 (19b, 4×4) ensured Warriorz would have something to bowl. Richa missed a chance to stump Harris early on, but she later made up for it with batting.