Mumbai Indians win inaugural ‘festival of cricket’ WPL

Mumbai Indians win inaugural ‘festival of cricket’ WPL
Amelia Kerr of Mumbai Indians celebrates the wicket of Marizanne Kapp of Delhi Capitals during the Women's Premier League final match between Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians at Brabourne Stadium on 26 March 2023 in Mumbai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Mumbai’s seven-wicket win over Delhi Capitals on Sunday signed off a historic three weeks in women’s cricket.

Natalie Sciver-Brunt smashed a 55-ball 60 to guide the Mumbai Indians to a seven-wicket victory over the Delhi Capitals in the final of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) on Sunday.

Sciver-Brunt was awarded the player of the match after reaching her third half-century of the tournament in the crunch encounter as she helped her Mumbai team chase down the below-par total of 131 for nine set by the Capitals.

“[I’m] glad I was able to stick it out when the pressure was on. It was starting to get quite tough and Harmanpreet [Kaur] and Melie [Kerr] took the pressure off me. I knew if I stayed till the end we’d get through,” Sciver-Brunt said.

“It means everything, coming together with a special group of girls with the Mumbai Indians, a really special moment.”

Natalie Sciver-Brunt of Mumbai Indians celebrates victory during the Women’s Premier League final match between Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians at Brabourne Stadium on 26 March 2023 in Mumbai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

South Africa’s Chloe Tryon was part of the Mumbai Indians squad that lifted the trophy although she did not take the field throughout the three-week tournament.

Instead, it was the rest of the overseas-based players that carried the team through in the climatic match. England’s Sciver-Brunt and Issy Wong (three wickets for 42 runs), West Indies’ Haley Matthews (three wickets for five runs) as well as New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr (two wickets for 18 runs) all played an instrumental role in getting Mumbai over the line.

“The pressure that comes with playing at this level and how to stay calm is what the Indian players should learn from their overseas teammates,” Mumbai Indians skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said after the match.

“Next season will be more exciting and people will be waiting for this.”

Marizanne Kapp of Delhi Capitals gesture during the WPL 2023 match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals at Brabourne Stadium on 5 March 2023 in Mumbai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Kapp’s loss

Delhi Capitals were the team of the tournament leading up to the final. They only lost two matches during the round-robin phase and headed into the final off consecutive wins.

South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp played a pivotal role in the side’s success with both bat and ball. The all-rounder ended the tournament with the 14th most runs, 177, at an incredible average of 44.25 while with the ball, she took the tenth most wickets with nine scalps at a near unbelievable economy rate of 5.72 — better than anyone else in the top 20 highest wicket-takers.

Unfortunately for the South African, it’s her second final defeat in the space of a month after losing while playing for her national team to Australia by 19 runs in the Women’s T20 World Cup final in Cape Town in February.

Kapp had a below-average return — by her standards — in the final, recording figures of no wickets for 22 runs in her four overs and striking 18 runs off 21 deliveries with the bat, coming in at number five.

Her partner, Dané van Niekerk, was in the crowd after she too was an unused member of the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad in the WPL. The former Proteas skipper and all-rounder was recently signed up by the Sunrisers to compete in England’s domestic T20 competition, the Charlotte Edwards Cup as well as part of the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in May till August.

Dané van Niekerk (Captain) (Eastern Province) of Starlights takes a catch to dismiss Nonkululeko Mlaba (Hollywoodbets Dolphins) of Thistles during the match between Starlights and Thistles on day three of the CSA Women’s T20 Super League at Six Gun Grill Newlands on 15 December 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

‘Festival for women’s cricket’

The WPL final signed off a historic three weeks of cricket in the global calendar. It’s the first women’s cricket tournament in the world of this stature and finance.

Franchise and media rights for the women’s version of the Indian Premier League sold for around $700-million, making it the second-most lucrative domestic women’s sports competition after US professional basketball.

“It was like a festival for women’s cricket which the entire world was celebrating. The atmosphere at the stadium was at par if not better than any big tournament final,” IPL chairman Arun Dhumal told Agence France-Presse.

“The way the tournament was conducted, the response to the matches, it went off as one of the best women’s cricket tournaments, even if you compare with the recently held World Cup.”

“As far as TV ratings are concerned, as far as competitive cricket is concerned, it was a great tournament.” DM


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