Velocity 113 for 7 (Wyatt 46, Shafali 34, Deepti 4-14) beat Trailblazers 112 for 6 (Deol 43, Bisht 2-13, Kerr 2-21) by three wickets
Stifling bowling from the Velocity spinners, sloppy fielding from Trailblazers, and aggressive knocks from Shafali Verma first and then Danielle Wyatt powered Velocity to a three-wicket win in their Women's T20 Challenge match in Jaipur on Wednesday. It was all looking rosy for Velocity as they got to 111 for 2, the target just two runs away, when they imploded spectacularly: in seven balls of spin from Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma, they lost five wickets without scoring a run, Deepti picking up three in five balls. But they were one stroke away from victory, and a thick edge from Sushree Pradhan eventually sealed the win.
Earlier, Velocity's Ekta Bisht and Amelia Kerr finished with combined figures of 4 for 34 from eight overs to restrict Trailblazers to 112 for 6. Had it not been for Harleen Deol's 43 off 40, Trailblazers would have finished with an even lower total.
Chasing what was a below-par total according to Deol, 15-year-old Shafali and Wyatt took on the bowlers from the time they got together after Hayley Matthews fell early. Shafali's 34 off 31 and Wyatt's 46 off 35 meant the late wickets in the 17th and 18th overs were not enough.
The spin squeeze
Velocity capitalised on their captain Mithali Raj's decision to bowl, with Shikha Pandey getting Smriti Mandhana to edge one behind for 10 in the third over. The second-wicket stand between Suzie Bates and Deol set the platform for a strong total as they scored at nearly a run-a-ball to help them to 50, but Bates tried one shot too many against spin and ended up holing out to long-on off Bisht's left-arm spin.
Stafanie Taylor was scratchy during her 18-ball stay, even surviving a run-out chance at the non-striker's end, and Pradhan's offspin soon accounted for Taylor for 5. Following a drought of runs that saw only 13 scored in overs 11 to 15, Deepti accompanied Deol in a counter-attacking stand of 32 runs off 26 balls, collecting 12 off Matthews in the 17th over to take them close to 100.
Not afraid to flight the ball in the death overs, Kerr returned to have both of them hole out to long-on off consecutive deliveries, leaving the Trailblazers tail with a lot to do.
The Shafali & Wyatt show
Velocity surprised Trailblazers by opening with Shafali, an unknown entity up against new-ball bowlers Shakira Selman and Sophie Ecclestone. Shafali hogged the limelight even as Matthews, the other opener, struggled to get going. A difficult return catch from Shafali was put down by Ecclestone when she hadn't scored a run, but soon the 15-year-old peppered the leg-side boundary, especially against Selman and Gayakwad. Two fours were hit off Selman in third over, and two more off Gayakwad in the sixth.
Even once the Powerplay ended, Shafali and Wyatt together hammered Gayakwad for 15 more in the eighth over, and by the time Shafali had top-edged Deol to point, Velocity's equation was 47 from 60.
Wyatt then took over to target the spinners, hitting them for sixes over long-on and unleashing strokes behind square on the off side.
Trailblazers can't catch
It was when Velocity needed just two runs from 20 balls that their slide began - Wyatt drilled a catch to mid-off for 46 and Veda Krishnamurthy was involved in a horrible mix-up with Raj that had both of them in the middle of the pitch when the bails were taken off by the keeper.
Still two to get, Raj yorked herself by coming down the pitch against Deepti, Pandey played an unnecessary slog-sweep to be bowled, and Kerr swung across the line to be bowled for a duck. After seven deliveries that saw five wickets fall, Pradhan struck the winning runs but the collapse could well have finished Velocity off had Trailblazers hung on to their chances earlier.
Ecclestone had dropped one more after the Shafali chance in the second over, wicketkeeper R Kalpana put down Matthews on 4 in the fifth over, and D Hemalatha didn't hold on to Raj's catch at cover four deliveries before Wyatt fell in the 17th over. With eight catches put down in two matches, Trailblazers will have to up their game if they do make it to the final on Saturday.
Trailblazers vs Velocity
Women's T20 Challenge
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo