Delhi Capitals 107 for 0 (Shafali 76*, Lanning 21*) beat Gujarat Giants 105 for 9 (Garth 32*, Kapp 5-15)
With the new ball in hand, and her wife Dane van Niekerk - who hinted at retirement from international cricket earlier in the day - watching from the stands, Marizanne Kapp delivered her best T20 performance as Delhi Capitals wrapped up a ten-wicket win against Gujarat Giants at the DY Patil Sports Academy.
Giants could muster just 105 for 9 off their 20 overs as they struggled against tight bowling from Capitals, with Kim Garth's 32 off 37 balls their highest individual score of the day.
They then helplessly watched Shafali Verma put up a Shafali show, as she smashed ten fours and five sixes on her way to the second-fastest fifty in the WPL, as Capitals completed their chase in just 7.1 overs. That also resulted in Capitals' net run rate zooming from 0.956 to 2.338, as they strengthened their position at No. 2 on the points table.
The perfect farewell gift courtesy Kapp
A few hours before the game, Kapp had (kind of) broken the news about van Niekerk's retirement. Last month, she had spoken about how it had been "difficult" for her when van Niekerk was snubbed for the T20 World Cup. "End of an era," Kapp tweeted on Saturday, along with pictures of van Niekerk and herself with their South African team-mates.
Up until this game, Kapp had collected figures of 0 for 36, 1 for 29, and 0 for 25 in her first three games of the WPL. In a tournament that has been dominated by batters and seen four totals in excess of 200, Kapp had actually fared better than most other bowlers. But Kapp sets high standards for herself - her captain Meg Lanning too acknowledged the same at the press conference later - and felt she had "let the team down".
"I just wanted to perform so badly for my team, it's not been going too well in the previous three games. I felt like I missed my line and length a lot and today it worked," Kapp told the host broadcaster after the match.
And she turned it around in some style. She bowled four overs in a row, choosing discipline to pick up her maiden five-wicket haul in T20s. The 5 for 15, in a way, also seemed like the perfect farewell gift for van Niekerk.
On a pitch that offered a bit of seam movement, Kapp stuck to the right lengths, bowling straighter and attacking the stumps, having three of the batters bowled and two pinned in front.
Kapp's carnage started with the second ball of the match, when she bowled the perfect yorker to hit S Meghana's off stump. In her next over, she welcomed her compatriot Laura Wolvaardt to the tournament with a ball that shaped back in off the seam to beat the inside edge and crash into the stumps. Right on target again.
Next ball, she pinged Ash Gardner on the pads with another nip-backer. And just like that, she left Giants in a disarray at 9 for 3.
"She [Kapp] bowled her stock ball and her natural length, which was able to get a little bit out of the wicket," Lanning said. "It was a bit of a new ball wicket from what I saw - and to see her do so well was great. She's been a bit down throughout the tournament. I don't think she's actually bowled that badly but it's the nature of the game… she actually worked really hard, [she is] very hard on herself."
And just when Harleen Deol was getting comfortable, Kapp hit her back leg with an offcutter. The appeal for lbw was overturned but a confident review gave Kapp her fourth wicket, and Capitals their fifth, in the powerplay. And then came wicket No. 5 as she bowled Sushma Verma through the gate with a length delivery that nipped back in.
The cameras cut to a proud van Niekerk cheering for her wife. "Feels like I'm the one retiring," Kapp told the host broadcaster at the end of an emotional day. I'm just happy she [van Niekerk] is in a better place mentally."
Shafali does Shafali things, yet again
Just four runs had come off the first over of the chase. A low-scoring thriller to come? No way Shafali was going to let that happen.
Her first big hit was a typical dancing-down-the-track six over long-off. She slapped four more boundaries in the next six balls, before taking on Ashleigh Gardner for two fours and a six. Lanning joined the party as well and hit two more fours off Gardner to close out a 23-run over. In the fifth over, Shafali got to her fifty, off just 19 balls, her fastest in T20s.
The effortless hitting continued as the Capitals raced to 87 for no loss in the powerplay. It didn't take much longer - with three fours and a six being hit in the next seven balls - to finish the game.
"Shafali took the wicket out of the equation," Lanning said. "She backed herself, played to her strengths, stayed nice and still and hit straight. On these wickets if you do that, you're going to be pretty successful. I loved standing at the other end, watching her do her thing. It was a lot of fun out there. Hopefully, she can continue on and be confident from this innings."