A tale of two overs - Harmanpreet and Ishaque change the script against UP Warriorz
Healy, McGrath fifties go in vain as Mumbai continue winning run with fourth win in four games
Mumbai Indians 164 for 2 (Harmanpreet 53*, Sciver-Brunt 45*) beat UP Warriorz 159 for 6 (Healy 58, McGrath 50, Ishaque 3-33) by eight wickets
Who can stop Mumbai Indians in the WPL?
At the halfway point of the league stage, the answer is: No one. Yet, at any rate.
UP Warriorz were the only team not to have played, and therefore not to have lost, to Mumbai and the set was completed on Sunday at a packed Brabourne Stadium.
Mumbai have now played four and won four with the following margins: 143 runs (Gujarat Giants), nine wickets (Royal Challengers Bangalore), eight wickets (Delhi Capitals), and eight wickets (Warriorz). Comprehensive, each of them.
But don't let this latest lopsided-looking result fool you. The win over Warriorz was not as straightforward as it might seem. Harmanpreet Kaur (53 off 33 balls) stood tall and produced a remarkable knock that made a tricky chase look easy, but it could well have been tougher. That it wasn't, when Mumbai were finally tested, was down to their captain and their other trump card, the purple-cap holder Saika Ishaque.
The match, and Mumbai's prowess, might perhaps be best summed up with the tale of two overs. One bowled by Ishaque, one faced by Harmanpreet.
Two overs. Two players who are on the opposite sides of the spectrum of Indian cricket. Two (more) reasons why Mumbai have been unstoppable.
Saika Ishaque takes out Alyssa Healy and Tahlia McGrath
In the first innings, Warriorz were cruising at 138 for 2 after 16 overs, and looking good for a big total, with Alyssa Healy past fifty and Tahlia McGrath almost there. Ishaque then came in for her last over, having been at the receiving end of Healy's aggression a fair bit earlier.
"Bowler hoon, wicket lene aayi hoon (I am a bowler, I am here to take wickets)," she had famously said when she got the purple cap for the first time this season. It's exactly what she did. On the third ball, she dismissed Healy lbw for 58. Two balls later, she got McGrath stumped for 50. Cool as you please.
She finished her spell with figures of 3 for 33, ensuring the purple cap remains firmly with her. Warriorz could only manage 159 in the end, a gettable target.
Harmanpreet Kaur amps it up
Then Mumbai were in a spot of bother at 72 for 2, after an uncharacteristically slow 17-ball 12 from Hayley Mathews and Yastika Bhatia falling after a good start (42 off 27). Warriorz's spin, which had set up their previous win, was working well on a pitch that had started aiding turn, Harmanpreet and Nat Sciver-Brunt were yet to get off the mark, and the asking rate was climbing.
It was still on Mumbai's side at 88 needed from 60 balls, but Harmanpreet had taken six balls to get off the mark. She then got a stroke of luck when she was on seven. Anjali Sarvani bowled a slower one on leg stump, which seemed to graze the stumps, the bail lit up, but stayed put.
Harmanpreet rode this luck to play a knock to remember.
It was the 16th over, McGrath's first. After the first ball, Sciver-Brunt was checked for concussion. One has to wonder what was discussed in the brief break because when Harmanpreet took strike again, she completely changed the game in just four balls with a four, six, four, four sequence, the six over cover such an effortlessly clean hit that it will go down as a shot-of-the-tournament contender.
She took six balls to get off the mark, but got to her fifty is 31 balls. She scored 36 runs in the last 12 balls she faced. Sciver-Brunt (45 off 31) and Harmanpreet ensured that Mumbai had yet another big win in the bag, and one foot straight in the final.
Just Harmanpreet things. Just Mumbai Indians things.