Giants seal first win after Mooney-Wolvaardt opening act

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Gujarat Giants 199 for 5 (Mooney 85*, Wolvaardt 76, Molineux 1-32) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 180 for 7 (Wareham 48, Gardner 2-23) by 19 runs

It was fifth time lucky for Gujarat Giants who won their first match of this year’s WPL in Delhi, after four defeats in Bengaluru. The change of venue worked a charm for Giants who bucked the Chinnaswamy chasing trend by choosing to bat first and racked up the second-highest total in their WPL history thanks to their first century stand. Laura Wolvaardt and Beth Mooney put on 140 for the first wicket and though the middle order fell away, they asked Royal Challengers Bangalore to pull off the highest successful WPL chase of 200.

If any team was up for the task, it was them. RCB chased down 189 against Giants last year, when Sophie Devine scored 99 from the opening berth and she looked in the mood for a repeat. Batting at No.4, Devine was at the crease two balls after the powerplay, with RCB on 42 for 2. She took them to halfway in a good position in 76 for 2 but then was bowled by left-arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar to leave RCB’s middle order to finish the job.

Richa Ghosh played a spirited hand with 30 off 20 balls and shared in a stand of 33 with Georgia Wareham, who scored 48 off 22, but skied an Ash Gardner full toss to Meghna Singh at cover and all but ended RCB’s hopes. The result means Giants have their first points and will enter the race for the knockouts, with three more league matches left to play.
Lack of runs was the main problem for Giants after the Bengaluru leg of the competition, with no top-order partnerships of more than 50 runs (Ash Gardner and Phoebe Litchfield had a 52-run fourth-wicket stand against UP Warriorz) partnerships and no individual scores of fifty or more. They put both of those right in their first outing in Delhi. Mooney and Wolvaardt’s opening combination worked well for the second time in three matches. After posting 40 against Warriorz, they got to 50 off 27 balls in the fifth over with Wolvaardt the aggressor and Mooney the accumulator. Theirs is the only opening stand in Giants’ history that has gone past a half-century, with no fifty-plus opening stands in 2023 either. Wolvaardt went on to record the first fifty by a Giants batter this year and she did so off just 32 balls with a stunning straight drive past Ellyse Perry and their stand grew to 140 – Giants highest in their history.

Bisht – and RCB – vs Umpires

Wolvaardt’s dismissal for 76 gave RCB an opportunity to get back into the innings and the two overs cost just 15 runs. But after Devine was brought back and her third over costing another 15 runs, the pressure was on the left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht. Mooney hit the first ball straight past her for four, then couldn’t get the second away. For the third, Mooney brought out a reverse-sweep and missed, prompting a loud appeal from Bisht for lbw, which was denied. RCB reviewed. Replays showed Mooney had inside-edged onto her front pad. Bisht kept the next ball full, Phoebe Litchfield tried to scoop and missed, RCB appealed again and were denied again. RCB reviewed again, only to see the ball pitching outside leg. Later, the same umpire gave Smriti Mandhana out in the chase when she missed a pull off Gardner and she reviewed the call. Replays showed the ball was hitting leg stump and Jayapal was right again.

Mooney’s onslaught didn’t blunt RCB’s fielding efforts and Mandhana was quick to respond when Mooney called Litchfield through for a non-existent single in the penultimate over. Her throw found Richa Ghosh in time to catch Litchfield out of her crease and run her out for 18. Giants promoted hard-hitting Gardner to No.4 and she sent the first ball she faced to Simran Bahadur at long-off to depart for a duck. Wareham conceded two wides and a single to close out the over. With Mooney off strike to start the last over, D Hemalatha stepped out of her crease to try and smack Sophie Molineux through the in-field but missed and was stumped. Four balls later, Mooney was facing again when she hit the ball to point and called Veda Krishnamurthy through for a single. Veda was never going to make her ground and became the third Giants batter to be run out. RCB closed out the innings with two overs that cost only 12 runs and brought them four wickets.

Mooney was on strike for all three Giants run-outs, and it was her calls that left her partners in tricky situations, but she made up for that when she completed a run-out in RCB’s innings. S Meghana was coming back for a second run off Meghna Singh but took on Wolvaardt’s arm and always looked in trouble. The throw came in and Mooney collected and whipped the bails off to give Giants a clear advantage just after the powerplay.

Wareham mayhem at the death

RCB’s hopes of a win were almost certainly out of mind when Wareham decided to have some fun. She’d just seen Ghosh dismissed, her team needed 71 off 24 balls and Tanuja Kanwar delivered a juicy full toss on offstump which she could not resist. Wareham cleared the front leg and boshed the ball over deep mid-wicket for her first six and RCB’s sixth. She hit one more, off Meghna over wide long-on, and RCB finished with eight sixes, an interesting statistic considering Giants only hit one six, but ended up on the losing side.

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