Women’s Premier League: Ashleigh Gardner keeps Gujarat Giants afloat

It was a bit late, but Ashleigh Gardner finally arrived at the WPL party. Gujarat Giants went all out for the Australian all-rounder in the auction, and on Thursday, she showed why the franchise was right to bet big on her. Gardner’s unbeaten 51 off 31 balls and 2/19 helped Gujarat Giants beat Delhi Capitals by 11 runs to keep their playoff hopes afloat.

It was sweet revenge for the Sneh Rana-led team after they were hammered by the Capitals in an earlier fixture. Put into bat, Giants scored 147 for 4. In reply, Capitals were bowled out for 136 in 18.4 overs.

Gardener’s half-century proved to be the match-winning knock for the Giants. After 12 overs, they were 64 for 2, but in the next eight overs, put on 83 runs. Gardner, along with Laura Wolvaardt (57 off 45 balls) put on 81 runs for the third wicket. The Aussie not only added the fuel in an otherwise conservative start, but also helped Giants to end with a flourish.

Wolvaardt changed gears and hammered Jess Jonassen for 15 runs in an over, including a six and two boundaries. At one stage, the South African was struggling, on 26 off 30 balls, but in the next 15, smoked 31 runs.

The Giants had a conservative approach after losing Sophia Dunkley (4) in the first over. The 49-run stand between Harleen Deol (31 off 33b) and Wolvaardt steadied the ship but the duo chewed up way too many deliveries. The Giants innings looked like going nowhere until Gardener changed the momentum with her fearless strokeplay.

For Capitals, Jess Jonassen (2/38), Marizanne Kapp (1/24) and Arundhati Reddy (1/25) shared the spoils.

In reply, Shafali Verma started with a six off Tanuja Kanwar but the bowler had the last laugh when the Capitals opener was bowled off a deflection.

Next in, Alice Capsey looked in a hurry as she muscled her way to an 11-ball 22, hitting a couple of boundaries off Kim Garth and two huge sixes in Gardener’s first over.

It was in the last over of the Powerplay when the game turned in favour of the Gujarat Giants. Rana pinned her counterpart Meg Lanning (18 off 15b) LBW and then a mix-up ended Capsey’s stay.

Capitals had lost momentum, but Kapp (36 off 29 balls) kept them in the chase, before a direct hit from Ashwani Kumari brought about her downfall.

Capitals were reeling at 100 for 8, but Arundhati Reddy had other ideas. The all-rounder used the long handle efficiently and swung the momentum back towards her team. But Kim Garth (2/18) sent Arundhati back to end the Capitals resistance.

Brief Scores: Gujarat Giants 147/ 4 (Ashleigh Gardner 51 not out, Laura Wolvaardt 57; Jess Jonassen 2/38) beat Delhi Capitals 136 all out in 18.4 overs (Marizanne Kapp 36, Arundhati Reddy 25; Ashleigh Gardner 2/19, Kim Garth 2/18, Tanuja Kanwar 2/28) by 11 runs

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