• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

CRICKET

Bangalore win maiden Women’s Premier League title

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s players hold the trophy after winning the Women’s Premier League (WPL) Twenty20 cricket final match against Delhi Capitals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on March 17, 2024. (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Pramod ThomasBy: Pramod Thomas

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE grabbed their first Women’s Premier League (WPL) title by restricting Delhi Capitals to 113 runs. They sealed an eight-wicket victory with just three balls left in New Delhi on Sunday (17).

Aggressive knocks from Ellyse Perry and Sophie Devine buoyed Bangalore at the right moment to seal the victory, with Delhi surrendering the fight at their home ground after their 64-run opening partnership was broken.

Australia’s Perry top-scored for Bangalore with 35 not out surpassing New Zealander Devine, whose 32 included five fours and a six in the 27 balls she faced.

Four of those boundaries came in the seventh over off Radha Yadav, closing a 36-run gap from the same point in Delhi’s innings.

“We did the job,” Devine said. “We had all the parts last season as well, it was just about putting them together.”

Devine departed in the ninth after an unsuccessful review of her lbw trapping by Shikha Pandey, with captain and fellow opener Smriti Mandhana anchoring the innings before she was sent back after a catch off Minnu Mani for 31.

Delhi skipper Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma made a barnstorming start after opting to bat with eight boundaries between them in seven overs.

But slow bowler Sophie Molineux brought the home side’s innings to a screeching halt with three dismissals off four balls in the eighth over.

The Australian forced Verma to misjudge a sweep and drive a catch to mid-wicket then bowled both Jemimah Rodrigues and Alice Capsey off consecutive deliveries.

A deflated Delhi conceded their remaining seven wickets for just 49.

“It all happened relatively quickly, as it tends to do,” Lanning said of the collapse.

“Crazy things happen, and every game has been pretty close,” she added. “They deserved the win.”

Bangalore were unexpected finalists for the WPL’s second edition after a narrow five-run win in Friday’s eliminator over Mumbai Indians, who beat Delhi in the inaugural season’s final.

The franchise has long had a reputation as an also-ran competitor.

Bangalore was one of the founding teams of the Indian Premier League but has never won that tournament despite three finals appearances and a roster featuring star batsman Virat Kohli and former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis.

The WPL was first staged last year as a curtain-raiser for the IPL and has already proved a tidy earner for the country’s cash-rich cricket board.

Franchise rights were auctioned off last January for $572.5 million, while media rights for the first five seasons were sold to Viacom18 for $116.7 million.

The two deals made the WPL the world’s second-most valuable women’s sports league after WNBA women’s basketball in the United States.

Match crowds have grown steadily for the second edition with a near-capacity crowd in Delhi for the final.

“You can gauge the popularity of women’s cricket by the fact that in the first season they were giving out tickets for free,” Bangalore fan Asif Chaudhary, 34, told AFP outside the stadium.

“But this time you can’t get tickets, even if you want to buy them.”

(Agencies)

Related Stories