The power of Shafali Verma’s strokes combined with Meg Lanning’s experience in a sensational 162-run opening-wicket stand helped Delhi Capitals to a thumping 60-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Women’s Premier League opener in Mumbai on March 5, 2023.
American left-arm pace bowler Tara Norris then came to the party, grabbing a fifer for DC to decimate the Smriti Mandhana-led team.
A day after her Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur had led Mumbai Indians to 207/5 in the inaugural match of the tournament, the 19-year-old Shafali took WPL to a new high with her explosive display of 84 off just 45 balls (10x4, 4x6).
The legendary five-time World Cup-winning Australian skipper Lanning, was also at her attacking best in a 43-ball 72 (14x4) as the duo demolished a listless RCB attack to take the WPL score to an imposing 223/2.
In reply, RCB got off to a spectacular start but left-arm pacer from USA Tara Norris (4-0-29-5) and Alice Capsey (2-0-10-2) dragged them down to 163 for eight in the stipulated 20 overs.
Norris, who became the first Associate player in the WPL, ripped through the star-studded RCB middle order taking the wickets of Ellyse Perry (31), Richa Ghosh (2) and Heather Knight (34) to send half of their batters back into the hut for 93 in 12.2 overs.
She bowled with pace and got the WPL’s first fifer with Kanika Ahuja’s scalp.
India vice-captain and WPL’s costliest player Smriti Mandhana, and Sophie Devine fired on all cylinders. At the four-over mark, they were 41 for no loss, way ahead of DC’s 29/0 at the same stage.
But English off-spinner Capsey triggered a stunning collapse, dismissing the duo in successive overs. She first accounted for the Kiwi batter for 14 (11b; 3x4) when Shafali took a stunning diving catch. Mandhana then gifted her wicket away with a top edge to Shikha Pandey.
The loss reminded one of RCB’s 140-run loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in the inaugural edition in 2008, when they folded up for 82 in reply to KKR’s 222/3.
Earlier, DC got a dream start with Shafali and Lanning minting runs. Heather Knight gave RCB something to cheer in the 15th over when the England skipper dismissed the duo with her off-spin.
Knight cleaned up her Australian counterpart with a fuller delivery, and after just one delivery, Shafali went for a widish delivery with Richa Ghosh completing a brilliant catch to inflict a double blow.
But, it was too little too late for the RCB camp as the DC duo’s epic opening partnership of 162 runs from 87 balls had set the tone for a 200-plus score. It was then left to Marizanne Kapp and Jemimah Rodrigues to give the final flourish, and they adding 59 runs in the back end.
Fresh from her T20 World Cup exploits, the South African batter smashed three sixes and three fours in her 17-ball unbeaten 39, while Jemimah complemented well in a 15-ball 22 (3x4).
A compact-looking Shafali never put a foot wrong, and picked the loose balls well to unleash her fury en route a 31-ball fifty with a single off Megan Schutt.
In the next over, the peerless Australian skipper Lanning followed suit with a 30-ball half-century, sweeping Heather Knight to fine leg for a four.
Having started off with 12 boundaries in the powerplay, Delhi cantered to the 100-run mark at the halfway mark as the duo accelerated well in the middle overs.
While the pair’s batting was majestic, Lanning and Shafali made merry against some listless bowling by the RCB bowlers.
On her WPL captaincy debut, Smriti Mandhana went on to use seven bowlers after she took the bold step of opting to bowl on a batting-friendly Brabourne.
Delhi Capitals Innings: Meg Lanning b Knight 72 Shafali Verma c Ghosh b Knight 84 Marizanne Kapp not out 39 Jemimah Rodrigues not out 22 Extras (B-1, W-5) 6
Total (For two wickets in 20 overs) 223
Fall of Wickets: 1-162, 2-163
Royal Challengers bowling: Renuka Singh 3-0-24-0, Megan Schutt 4-0-45-0, Preeti Bose 4-0-35-0, Ellyse Perry 3-0-29-0, Sophie Devine 1-0-20-0, Sobhana Asha 2-0-29-0, Heather Knight 3-0-40-2.