WPL: Warriorz washed out by DC’s Jess Jonassen and Meg Lanning

The boundary ropes are a bit further in the Women’s Premier League than they were at the recent T20 World Cup, and one has to wonder how big a factor that is in the frequent 200+ scores in the tournament so far.

Three of the first five matches have seen the team batting first breach the 200-run mark. These scores were rare in the ICC event in South Africa, and came in matches featuring teams with a gulf in class. Often totals of 170 or more were difficult to chase.

Maybe, it’s the flatter pitches that have taken scores to another level. On Monday, Mumbai Indians had just 156 to get against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Hayley Matthews and Nat Sciver-Brunt ensured they overhauled their target in only 14.2 overs.

On Tuesday at the DY Patil Stadium, it was two Aussies – Meg Lanning and Jess Jonassen – who came to the fore as Delhi Capitals amassed 211/4 and dispatched UP Warriorz by 42 runs.

One doesn’t associate Lanning with big hitting, but she usually finds a way. Shabnim Ismail, who missed the first game, was generating some heat in the first few overs, but the Australia captain took her on and even if a bit fortuitously, got Capitals off to a flying start as the younger Shafali Verma took a backseat. Lanning’s 70 off 42 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes, was the main reason Capitals reached 62/0 after the Powerplay. A brief rain interruption did little to curb their momentum, even if Marizanne Kapp and Alice Capsey only played short and sweet cameos.

Jonassen and Jemimah Rodrigues provided the required finishing kick with an unbeaten stand of 67 in just 34 balls. The left-handed Australian showcased her power-hitting while the young India used her inventiveness and intelligence to find the boundary or turn over the strike.

The first two balls of the chase, bowled by Kapp to Alyssa Healy, were pulled to the midwicket boundary, but the ask was much too steep and once Jonassen got two wickets – those of Healy and the dangerous Kiran Navgire – in her first over, the writing was very much on the wall. Tahlia McGrath ploughed a lone furrow, but it was never going to be enough. Her unbeaten 90 off 50 balls featured 11 fours and four sixes, but a lion’s share of those hits came when the outcome of the match was, more or less, decided.

Her lone hand could take the UP Warriorz only to 169/5 and their shallow batting depth ensured there never was any worthwhile support for McGrath. The architect of their win over Gujarat Giants the other day, Grace Harris, was left out to accommodate Ismail in the playing XI. When McGrath went on a hitting spree, with the result already clear, UP Warriorz could have done with a bit of support from the other end in the form of boundaries and sixes, when the result was still up for grabs. The lack of a seasoned Indian batter in their playing XI left all the heavy lifting to be done by their overseas contingent, which was never on in the face of such a steep total.

Jonassen was the big performer with the ball as well, claiming three wickets with her left-arm spin.

Aussie rules

It’s still early days in the competition but, as they say, the cream rises to the top. Australian players, world champions in both white-ball formats, have made telling contributions with both bat and ball in most games. Lanning’s captaincy is one of the major reasons why Australia have dominated and her calm and composed leadership style took Delhi Capitals to their second successive win.

As far as the boundary distances are concerned, some of the sixes hit on Tuesday by the likes of Jonassen and McGrath sailed much beyond the rope. Royal Challengers Bangalore player Sophie Devine has said that she would like the boundaries to be pushed back to provide a bigger challenge for batters.

However, some of the sixes off Lanning’s bat, especially off Ismail’s bowling, had more than a hint of top or the leading edge. The South African, considered the fastest bowler in the women’s game, had respectable figures of 1/29 from her four overs, but on a luckier day, she could have finished with more wickets. With the pace on the ball, and Lanning’s bat-swing, the ball often sailed over the boundary, which can be no longer than 60 yards, as per a BCCI diktat. At the recent Women’s T20 World Cup, the boundary was a minimum of 65 yards away. In the Indian Premier League, the boundary is a maximum of 70 yards away.

UP Warriorz’s spin attack, including the likes of Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad, couldn’t stem the run-flow either, going at an economy rate of 10 and 15.5 runs per over.

Brief scores: Delhi Capitals 211/4 in 20 overs (Lanning 70, Jonassen 42 not out) beat UP Warriorz 169/5 in 20 overs (McGrath 90 not out; Jonassen 3/43) by 42 runs.

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