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Harmanpreet's stunning 65 powers MI to 207/5 in WPL opener

The opener was preceded by a glittering opening ceremony at the DY Patil Stadium.

Harmanpreets stunning 65 powers MI to 207/5 in WPL opener
Harmanpreet Kaur

NAVI MUMBAI: Captain Harmanpreet Kaur powered Mumbai Indians to an imposing 207/5 with a stunning half-century against Gujarat Giants as the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) got underway in front of a packed house here on Saturday.

The opener was preceded by a glittering opening ceremony at the DY Patil Stadium.

Kaur lit up the contest with a compelling knock of 65 off just 30 balls (14x4s), which floored the Gujarat Giants and wrote her name in the history books.

The right-handed Kaur added a quickfire 89 runs for the fourth wicket with Amelia Kerr, with the New Zealand batter making a rapid 45 not out from just 24 balls with six fours and a six.

Mumbai Indians scored 62 runs from the last 30 balls of their innings to record a total in excess of 200 in the very first innings of the tournament.

Gujarat Giants were guilty of committing several errors in the field, including bowling plenty of deliveries on the leg side, after winning the toss and opting to field. Kaur, who began with consecutive fours off Sneh Rana in the 11th over, got two more fours off Georgia Wareham in the 12th and gave a similar treatment to Annabel Sutherland in the next over. However, it was in the 15th over when Kaur truly showcased her class, hammering the young left-arm seamer Monica Patel for four consecutive fours to collect 21 runs from the over, which was the most expensive of the innings.

Despite losing an early wicket in the form of Yastika Bhatia (1), Mumbai Indians remained aggressive with the bat, with West Indies' Hayley Matthews providing the initial fireworks during her 54-run stand for the second wicket with Nat Sciver-Brunt (23) to lay a strong platform. Both Nat Sciver-Brunt and Matthews pounced upon any opportunity to score, which they got in abundance from the Gujarat bowlers who were wayward with their lines.

While the right-handed Sciver-Brunt fell for an 18-ball 23, including five fours, it was Matthews who led the scoring in the initial stages of the game.

Matthews, who began with a six and a four off Mansi Joshi in the second over, took on Annabel Sutherland as she hit a couple of sixes off the right-arm Australian bowler in the eighth over. The 54-run second-wicket stand was finally broken by Georgia Wareham in the ninth over, who got Sciver-Brunt caught at mid-on by Sneh Rana.

Soon, Matthews' charge towards the first-ever WPL half-century was ended by Gardner, brought into the attack to control the run-flow by Gujarat captain Beth Mooney after the strategic break. After being punished for a four past point, Gardner provided the third breakthrough when she got one to spin sharply into the right-handed Matthews. The batter missed connecting with the ball which dismantled her stumps. The right-handed Caribbean batter Matthews fell for a 31-ball 47, studded with four sixes and three fours.

India's Tanuja Kanwar provided Gujarat Giants with their first breakthrough in the third over, with Yastika Bhatia — who struggled to get off the blocks — hitting one straight into the hands of Georgia Wareham at point.

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