Buoyed by Virat Kohli’s pep talk, Royal Challengers Bangalore continued to fight for another day as they notched their maiden five-wicket victory over UP Warriors after five consecutive defeats in the Women’s Premier League on Wednesday.
After a collective show from their bowlers led by Ellyse Perry, whose 3/16 ensured UP Warriorz were bowled out for a moderate 135 in 19.3 overs, RCB sailed past the target with 20-year-old Kanika Ahuja playing the match-winning knock of 46 off 30 balls with eight fours and one six. She put on a 60-run stand with India keeper Richa Ghosh (31 not out from 32 balls, 3x4s, 1x6s) who played the second fiddle to perfection.
Ahuja and Ghosh had joined forces at a stage from where the game could have gone either way, with RCB having lost four wickets with 60 runs on the board and a tricky challenge in front of them. But the two young batters played with a lot of conviction and command, not allowing UP Warriorz any opportunity to make further inroads until they had ensured a win for their side.
RCB had a poor start, losing the in-form Sophie Devine for 14 after early aggression, and skipper Smriti Mandhana (0), who had to endure yet another flop show with the bat. The RCB captain was cleaned up by Deepti Sharma off the third ball she faced.
Smriti Mandhana said “Virat Kohli was so humble, his motivation on morning helped us a lot”. – Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) March 15, 2023
Devika Vaidya got the key breakthrough in the seventh over getting Perry (10) caught by Sophie Ecclestone and in the ninth, Deepti Sharma removed the dangerous Heather Knight (24), caught by Kiran Navgire, with 60 runs on the board. In the first half of the game, Perry was magnificent with the ball for RCB despite being introduced late.
The right-arm seamer halted UP Warriorz’s charge when the pair of Grace Harris (46) and Deepti (22) threatened to take the game away from RCB, and also accounted for Shweta Sehrawat (6) to record figures of 4-0-16. -3. Harris missed a deserving half-century, falling for 46 off 32 balls with five fours and two sixes.
Harris and Deepti led the recovery for UP Warriorz tottering at one stage at 31/5 with a brisk 69-run stand that took them past the 100-run mark. Harris made the most of a lifeline given by Richa Ghosh, who missed a regulation stumping off Sobhana Asha when the batter was only on nine.
Devine set the tone in RCB’s favor with two wickets in the first over to return with 4-0-23-2, Sobhana Asha got plenty of turn during a largely impactful 4-0-27-2 and Megan Schutt produced a measly spell of 4-0-21-1 to cap off a combined bowling show for RCB.
Earlier before the start of the contest, the former RCB captain Virat Kohli met the team and also had a talk with Mandhana, whose torrid run with the bat continued. In their previous meeting at the Brabourne Stadium on March 10, UP Warriors had crushed RCB by a massive 10-wickets in a one-sided game with Alyssa Healy scoring a stunning 96 not out in the winning cause.