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2nd Match (N), Bengaluru, February 24, 2024, Women's Premier League
(20 ov, T:158) 155/7

RCB Women won by 2 runs

Player Of The Match
Cricinfo's MVP
174.08 ptsImpact List

Asha's five-for leads RCB to overcome Harris onslaught

At one stage, UP Warriorz needed 32 from 24 balls, and then 11 from nine, but fell short by two eventually

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Royal Challengers Bangalore 157 for 6 (Ghosh 62, Meghana 53, Gayakwad 2-24) beat UP Warriorz 155 for 7 (Harris 38, Sehrawat 31, Asha 5-22) by two runs
Five needed from one ball - that was the requirement on the opening night of WPL 2024, and it was the same on the second. While Delhi Capitals could not defend that, Royal Challengers Bangalore did, and got their campaign off to a winning start in the backdrop of a ballistic home crowd at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Once again, it was an unheralded Indian player who shone the brightest - Sobhana Asha's five-wicket haul derailed UP Warriorz's chase of 158 to help RCB defend a total for the first time. They had never managed to do so in four attempts in the first season.
At one point, Grace Harris, who scored 38 off 23 balls, threatened to take Warriorz home but Asha's spell had them falling short by two runs.

Asha, the hope

Her Twitter handle is ashathehopejoy; Asha translates to hope. She was a figure of hope and excitement in Bengaluru, changing the game twice. After Sophie Molineux dismissed Alyssa Healy with a peach, Vrinda Dinesh and Tahlia McGrath added 38 off 41 balls. When the pair tried to break free, Asha had Vrinda stumped for 18 off 28. A couple of balls later, she castled McGrath who tried to sweep a ball that was too full.
Harris and Shweta Sehrawat put the chase back on track by adding 77 in just 46 balls. With 32 required from four overs, Smriti Mandhana turned to Asha again. She delivered a triple-wicket over, dismissing Sehrawat, Harris and Kiran Navgire to complete her five-for and send the jitters in the opposition camp.

The Harris-Sehrawat show

Sehrawat is coming on the back of a successful domestic season where she was Delhi's leading run-getter in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy while striking at 122.45. Warriorz were 49 for 3 in the ninth over when she joined Harris in the middle. While Sehrawat took her time on a used pitch, Harris kept the scoreboard ticking.
Harris hit legspinner Georgia Wareham for back-to-back fours in the tenth over before smashing Asha for a six in the next. She managed to find the boundary regularly before Sehrawat attacked Ellyse Perry. A couple of balls after slapping one through cover-point, she deposited a back-of-a-length ball over deep midwicket. Harris then sent Molineux into the deep-midwicket stands to end the 15th over. All that sequence meant Warriorz scored 30 in two overs.

Meghana steadies RCB

The decibel levels soared when Mandhana hit a six and a four off successive balls in the second over after RCB were sent in. But they soon lost Sophie Devine lbw to Grace Harris, who opened the bowling, for 1.
From there on, S Meghana took over. Her intentions of taking the aerial route with the field up were clear from the moment she walked in. Once she got her timing right, she hit Harris for three fours in the fifth over. She had luck on her side as well - Sehrawat could not grasp the ball after a diving effort at deep midwicket when Meghana was on 16, and McGrath shelled one in the seventh over when the batter was on 22.
Meghana showed why she is regarded highly with her footwork, especially against the left-arm spin of Rajeshwari Gayakwad. She hit her only six off Gayakwad - a loft over extra cover - before completing a 40-ball half-century. But in the 17th over, she gave Gayakwad the charge and was stumped.

Ghosh ups the tempo

Despite losing their third wicket in the eighth over, RCB did not hold Richa Ghosh back. Curbing her aggression, she focused on rotating the strike and her first couple of fours were more touch than power. She moved steadily to a run-a-ball 16 before WPL debutant Saima Thakor's second over helped her cut loose.
Ghosh pummelled the seamer for four fours in the 14th over to send the ball to different parts of the ground - through backward point, over mid-off, between long-on and deep midwicket and through square leg, respectively. A little later, she hit five fours across two overs from McGrath on her way to a 31-ball half-century.
Despite that, Warriorz gave away only 32 in the last four overs, and if not for Ghosh's blitz, RCB might have ended well below 150.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Sudarshanan7

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Over 20 • UPW-W 155/7

RCB Women won by 2 runs
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