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Mandhana Shines: WPL 2024 Bengaluru Highlights


Cricket  •  5 Mar, 2024  •  94,037 Views  •  ⭐ 4.3

Written by Anand Swami


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The Women's Premier League (WPL) 2024's inaugural phase concluded spectacularly in Bengaluru, witnessing Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) secure their third victory in five matches before a vociferous crowd of 26,483 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The atmosphere was electrifying, mirroring the intensity of a gathering almost twice its size, as chants of 'RCB-RCB' resonated, showcasing the team's growing nationwide popularity. RCB's high-octane performance against UP Warriorz, driven by strategic tactical adjustments, showcased a remarkable batting display that left the opponents demoralized.

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Tactical Masterstroke

Smriti Mandhana and Meghana
Image Credits: ESPNcricinfo

In response to a series of disappointing scores (1, 6, 23, and 9), RCB made a pivotal tactical adjustment by demoting Sophie Devine in the batting order, promoting S Meghana to open the innings with Smriti Mandhana. The strategy aimed to exploit the powerplay optimally, urging Meghana to play aggressively without the fear of losing her wicket.

Meghana embraced the role with enthusiasm, delivering a scintillating start that showcased her ability to execute powerful agricultural heaves and bottom-handed shots, setting a robust foundation for the innings. This move not only revitalized RCB's approach at the start but also demonstrated their depth in batting, allowing them to approach the game with renewed aggression and confidence.

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Mandhana's Majestic Innings

Smriti Mandhana
Image Credits: The Indian Express

Captain Smriti Mandhana stood out with magnificent innings, scoring an 80 off 50 balls, infused with elegance and aggression. Despite a challenging start to her tenure at RCB, where she struggled, especially against left-arm spin, Mandhana turned the tables with this innings. Facing a variety of spinners including Deepti Sharma, Sophie Ecclestone, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Mandhana's counterattack was both strategic and sublime.

Her exceptional footwork and precision in shot selection, highlighted by a stunning inside-out six and aggressive batting against off-spinner Chamari Athapaththu, underscored her pivotal role in RCB's batting lineup. Even as Alyssa Healy attempted psychological tactics by bringing on spinners early, Mandhana's resilience and skilful batting kept the pressure firmly on the UP Warriorz, marking a significant return to form.

Perry's Pivotal Partnership

Ellyse Perry
Image Credits: IceCric News

Ellyse Perry, batting at No. 3, provided the perfect complement to Mandhana's aggressive play. Her 37-ball 58 was a masterclass in controlled aggression, finding gaps with ease and occasionally launching the ball into the air for boundary hits. Perry's innings were crucial in maintaining the momentum set by Mandhana, allowing RCB to build on the solid foundation. This partnership not only propelled RCB to their highest WPL total of 198 for three but also displayed strategic depth in their batting order, with Perry adapting her game to suit the team's needs and situation perfectly.

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Warriorz's Waning Chase

Alyssa Healy
Image Credits: ESPNcricinfo

Despite a solid start to their chase, the UP Warriorz found themselves struggling against RCB's bowling attack. Alyssa Healy, the Warriorz captain, played a defiant knock, scoring a 34-ball fifty, but the absence of support from the other end hindered their progress. The initial overs saw them keeping pace with the required run rate, thanks to Healy and Kiran Navgire's aggressive batting.

However, the dismissal of key players like Navgire, Chamari Athapaththu, Grace Harris, and Shweta Sehrawat in quick succession, coupled with the mounting asking rate, put the Warriorz on the back foot. Despite a late attempt to rally, with Deepti Sharma and Poonam Khemnar adding 41 runs for the sixth wicket, the Warriorz ultimately fell short, finishing at 175 for 8.

Strategic Shifts and Individual Brilliance

RCB WPL 2024
Image Credits: Vartha Bharati

The strategic batting order changes and the standout performances from RCB's players underscored a deliberate shift in their approach to the game. Promoting S Meghana and the significant roles played by Richa Ghosh and Ellyse Perry highlighted RCB's strategic flexibility and depth. Ghosh's improvement over the past year, from being sidelined for fitness concerns to playing a crucial role in the team's batting and wicket-keeping, was particularly noteworthy.

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Her athletic dismissal of Grace Harris showcased her skill and anticipation behind the stumps. These individual contributions, combined with strategic shifts, signalled RCB's intent to harness their full potential and challenge the narrative of their previous performances.

A New Benchmark in Entertainment

Richa Ghosh
Image Credits: Times of India

The match wasn't just about cricket; it became a spectacle of entertainment, particularly during the strategic timeout when Sophie Devine and Richa Ghosh engaged in a 50-metre dash from the pitch to the dugout. This moment of light-hearted competition between the two athletes was embraced by the fans, adding a layer of fun and camaraderie to the intense cricketing action.

It was a testament to the spirit of the WPL, showcasing not only the athletic prowess of the players but also their ability to entertain and engage with the audience, making the game an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Conclusion

As the WPL 2024's Bengaluru leg concludes, RCB's triumphant stride, marked by strategic mastery and individual heroics, has electrified the atmosphere, drawing a massive crowd into a collective celebration. Their victories, underscored by tactical adjustments and standout performances, signal a promising outlook as the tournament shifts to New Delhi.

This momentum sets the stage for further exhilarating cricket, inviting fans and teams to anticipate more thrilling matches. RCB's resurgence not only revitalizes their campaign but also enriches the WPL with unforgettable moments, fostering a growing excitement for the competition's next chapter.

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