WPL: Grace special helps UP Warriorz secure playoff berth with thrilling win over Gujarat Giants
UP Warriorz defeated Gujarat Giants to become the final team to qualify for the WPL playoffs.
UP Warroirz's Grace Harris (72 off 41 balls) once again set the stage on fire with her heavy-duty hitting, as the team defeated Gujarat Giants for the second consecutive time by three wickets with just one delivery to secure a place in the playoffs of the inaugural season on Monday.
Following the win, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and UP Warriors have made the grade, while Gujarat Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore have been eliminated from the tournament.
Grace smashed the Giants attack to smithereens, hitting seven fours and four maximums in the chase of the Giants' 178/6. When she departed at 72, caught by Kim Garth of Harleen Deol, there were still seven runs to be scored for victory.
There were a few nervous moments when Simran Shaikh departed and it became 177/7 for the Warriorz. Two runs of the last two deliveries can always be a tricky, but Sophie Ecclestone swept a Sneh Rana delivery to a boundary to signal the win with just one ball to spare.
Grace was involved in two productive partnerships, with countrymate Tahlia McGrath (57) and Sophie Ecclestone (19 not out). While Graces' stand with McGrath was worth 78 runs, with Sophie it fetched 42 runs and it insured an easy passage into the knockouts with just one ball to spare.
The partnership between Grace and Tahlia had laid a solid foundation and the former continued even after her country-mate departed at 117/4. Grace, who had scored an unbeaten 59 the last time the teams had met at the DY Patil Stadium and ensured a thrilling victory for the Warriorz with just one ball to spare, played with such ferocity, it made the Giants bowlers look mere pedestrians.
All this despite the UP Warriorz being off to a bad start on a pitch that offered good bounce and carry. The team was down in the dumps at 3/39 before Grace and Tahlia came together to turn the tables on the Giants.
Skipper Alyssa Healy (12) went early after giving indication she meant business. Young Giants medium-pacer Monica Patel took the prized scalp in just the second over of the innings after being dispatched for consecutive boundaries by the Australian.
Monika was given a pep talk by team-mates, and the result was the big wicket two deliveries later. The left-armer kept a back-of-length delivery on middle and leg stump that bounced a bit extra and Healy committed herself to a pull shot slightly early, getting an edge which flew to Harleen Deol at deep deep square leg.
The third over saw the Warriorz lose their second key batter in Kiran Navgire with Australian right-arm quick Kim Garth dismissing the quick for just four and reducing the Warriorz to 2/19.
To add to their woes, left-arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar got Devika Vaidya caught behind the stumps by Sushma Verma in the fifth over. Devika aimlessly raced down the track to flick the ball only to get a feather touch which flew to the keeper.
Earlier, a brilliant 93-run partnership between Dayalan Hemalatha (57 off 33 balls) and the second costliest player Ashleigh Gardner (60 off 39 balls) helped Gujarat Giants post 178/6 in their do-or-die clash.
The authority and attacking ways with which the duo played indicated they were on a mission, given the do-or-die nature of the contest as the tournament enters its business end.
By the time the partnership ended, with Hemalatha dismissed by Parshavi Chopra in the 17th over with the team total on 143, the stand had put the team on course for a competitive total.
South African opener Laura Wolvaardt and Sophia Dunkley went about their task of scoring runs in powerplay with a lot of urgency. Runs flowed freely while the two batting stalwarts were at the crease, with Wolvaardt smacking a fine boundary off just the third ball of the opening over bowled by left-arm pacer Anjali Sarvani.
The 23-year-old used the width on offer to steer it past backward point, making her intentions clear. Just two overs into the match and Gujarat Giants were in overdrive, with the team having scored 26 runs.
The powerful six by the South African off a length delivery outside off stump from left-arm India spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad in the second over had class and power written all over it. Soon England batter Dunkley took charge, giving a further fillip to the scoring rate.