Ashleigh Gardner justified her top billing among the overseas recruits with a superb all-round performance that ensured a hard-fought 11-run victory over Delhi Capitals in a Women’s Premier League match in Mumbai on Thursday. After setting a below-par target of 148 for Delhi Capitals to win, Gujarat fought back well with an inspired show with the ball and in the field to bowl the second-placed team out for 136 in 18.4 overs here on a breezy night at the Brabourne Stadium. Gardner first scored 51 off 33 balls with the bat and then took 2/19 in 3.4 overs under pressure to ease the road to victory for Giants, who have now leapfrogged RCB once again to stay fourth in five-team table. While DC’s points tally remains 8 from 6 games, GG now have 4 points from six games.
The victory also ensured that Giants remained in contention for a place in the play-offs.
Arundhati Reddy (25) and Shikha Pandey (8 not out) kept Delhi’s hopes alive till late in the game with their 35-run ninth-wicket stand, but Gujarat managed to pull off a favourable result with Kim Garth (4-0-18-2) and Gardner producing impressive spells.
Reddy and Pandey got together when Delhi were exactly 48 runs away from win with more than five overs left and batted sensibly without any element of risk but Garth eventually ended their association.
Reddy, who struck four fours in her 17-ball 25, played one shot too many as she was caught at cover when Delhi needed another 13 to win and Gardner took the final wicket of Yadav to seal the game.
Delhi made a shaky start losing dashing batter Shafali Verma (8) and Meg Lanning (18) inside the Powerplay, and also Alice Capsey, who was run out after a promising 11-ball 22 with two fours and as many sixes.
While Shafali was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar, Lanning was guilty of playing across the line and was pinned leg-before the wickets off Gujarat Giants captain Sneh Rana.
Capsey was the victim of a poor call for a single with Jemimah Rodrigues when there was none, as she was run out even before she could put her bat down on the ground to drag it in.
Earlier in the first half of the contest, half-centuries from Beth Mooney’s replacement Laura Wolvaardt (57) and Gardner (51 not out) took Gujarat Giants to a total of 147/4 in their 20 overs, after they had crawled to an ordinary 53/2 halfway through.
Harleen Deol once again got a start but could not convert it into a big score, perishing for a 33-ball 31 with four fours but the pair of Wolvaardt and Gardner did well to save the blushes for the Gujarat side.
The overseas pair of South African Wolvaardt and Australian Gardner added 81 runs for the third wicket from just 53 balls to help Gujarat recover from what had been a slow start.
The right-handed Wolvaardt struggled for timing and placement in an innings of two halves – with the other highlighting her ruthless best. Wolvaardt managed six fours and a six to make 57 from 45 balls, and was also involved in a slow but steady stand of 49 runs with Deol for the second wicket.
The contest here on Thursday night was the second meeting between the Capitals and the Giants in the inaugural edition of the WPL.
In their earlier contest, Delhi had recorded a massive 10-wicket win a few nights ago when they knocked off a target of little over 100 within eight overs at the DY Patil Stadium.
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