Jaipur, May 7:
Trailblazers withstood the onslaught of hard-hitting Harmanpreet Kaur to pull-off a thrilling two-run win over Supernovas in the opening game of the Women’s T20 Challenge here on Monday.
Needing 19 off the final over, Supernovas skipper Harmanpreet (46 not out off 34) almost got her team over the line with some sensational hitting but veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami held her nerve after being smashed for four consecutive boundaries.
In response to Trailblazers’ 140 for five, Supernovas ended agonisingly short at 138 for six. Harmanpreet and New Zealander Sophie Devine (32 off 22) took the game deep with a 48-run stand for the fifth wicket.
The game was an ideal advert for women’s cricket and before Harmanpreet’s cameo, it was explosive opener and Trailblazers skipper Smriti Mandhana who enthralled the Jaipur crowd with a match-winning 90 off 67 balls.
Mandhana took the team to a fighting total after Supernovas opted to field on a slow surface at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Stroke making was tough on a rather slow surface and though 141 seemed like a comfortable target, Supernovas had to work hard for every run. Poor fielding let Trailblazers down but they still managed to get the result they wanted.
After the early fall of New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates, captain Mandhana anchored a 119-run stand with Harleen Deol (36 off 44), who struggled to change gears in challenging conditions.
In fact, both Mandhana and Deol struggled to get going as Trailblazers crawled to 25 for one in six overs after Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas opted to field.
The BCCI is organising a bigger tournament for the women in comparison to the inaugural edition last year when only a one-off game was played. Four out of the three games will be broadcast live on prime time unlike last year with an aim to attract a bigger TV audience.
At the venue, the stadium was far from full despite free entry but that did not dampen Mandhana’s spirits. After getting used to the slowness of the wicket, the southpaw went for her strokes and even smashed three sixes to go with 10 fours. Australians are not taking part in the event this time owing to a scheduling dispute between the BCCI and Cricket Australia over a men’s ODI series.