WPL: Who is Kanika Ahuja? The girl who led RCB to their first-ever win
Kanika Ahuja led RCB to their first-ever WPL win with an impressive 46 off 30 deliveries.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), on Wednesday, registered their first-ever Women's Premier League (WPL) victory as the defeated the UP Warriorz by 5 wickets at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.
Having lost all their first five matches in the inaugural edition of the WPL, RCB were desperate for a win to hang on to their chances of making it to the playoffs. The win over UP Warriorz also lifts them from the bottom of the WPL points table for the first-time ever, courtesy of a better NRR.
RCB started well in the contest as New Zealand's Sophie Devine, who opened the bowling, struck twice in the very first over. She sent back the Indian domestic veteran Devika Vaidya and the dangerous Alyssa Healy as they displayed that they are up for a fight.
The Smriti Mandhana-led side then kept a tight lid on the scoring rate and never let the Warriorz take control of the first innings. They even kept chipping away with wickets at regular intervals as the Capri Global-led side were all out for 135 with three deliveries still remaining.
While it looked as if it would be an easy chase for RCB, they lost their top order quickly. Captain Mandhana fell for a duck and Devine, Ellyse Perry could not create much of an impact either as they fell to 43/3 after 6.1 overs.
At this point, RCB found an unlikely star in the young Kanika Ahuja. The 20-year-old batted with batted with complete control and stitched crucial partnerships with the more experienced Heather Knight and Richa Ghosh.
Ahuja had shown flashes of brilliance in the WPL so far - a powerful striker award in the match against Mumbai Indians is a testament to his, but this was her time to shine.
On Wednesday, she put a half-tracker to the square-leg boundary off her very first delivery to make a statement.
Despite losing the wicket of Knight a couple of overs later, Ahuja continued to bat with aggression. She not only revived the RCB innings, but also ensured that the required run-rate never got out of hands. The southpaw's innings of 46 off just 30 deliveries was laced with 8 boundaries and a hit over the ropes.
But, did you know that Kanika Ahuja was not always a cricketer?
Yes, Ahuja initially ventured into sports as a skater. She has the distinction of having competed in national-level tournaments in skating and it was only later on the insistence of her school cricket coach, that Ahuja chose cricket.
An able all-rounder, who bowls off-spin, Kanika Ahuja hails from Punjab. She has represented the state across age group levels and has even captained its U16 and U19 teams.
Ahuja is also a regular feature in the North Zone teams and was a part of the India Women D team which won the 2022-23 Senior Women's Challenger Trophy.
She was recruited by the RCB for INR. 35 lakh during the first-ever WPL player auction.