Small role, big impact: Rana refuses to RONSBU, Healy backs teen spirit
Two decisions by the captains had a defining impact on the result between Gujarat Giants and UP Warriorz
On the day 'small role, big impact' was trending on Twitter, the captains of Gujarat Giants and UP Warriorz played out the meme on the field with two moments that changed the game.
Giants' Sneh Rana chose not to run out Grace Harris backing up and gave her a warning instead. Harris was on 11 at the time and went on to score 72 off 41 balls to seal Warriorz's win and their place in the playoffs.
In Giants' first innings, the Warriorz captain Alyssa Healy had bravely trusted her 16-year-old legspinner Parshavi Chopra to bowl the penultimate over, despite Ashleigh Gardner batting on 60 off 38 balls. Chopra dismissed Gardner with the first ball of the 19th over, and Warriorz went on to concede only 12 more runs, keeping the Giants to 178 for 6.
Two seemingly small captaincy decisions that made a huge difference to the match. Warriorz went on to win with a ball to spare and officially end the inaugural Women's Premier League playoffs race with the final day of fixtures to go. Giants finished their season with only two wins in eight matches.
Rana refuses to RONSBUIn the ninth over of the Warriorz chase, Rana decided not to run out the batter who had single-handedly won the match the last time these two teams played, despite Harris backing up out of her crease at the non-striker's end.
At the time, Rana's warning to Harris flew under the radar: it wasn't replayed on the big screen and did not register with most people in the crowd. It was mentioned on air at the time, but she wasn't asked about it after the match.
Rana's decision raised that question again: why is running out the non-striker who's backing up too far still viewed as a question of ethics or the spirit of the game, when it's actually a matter of law? Harris was the one on the wrong side of the rules, yet she was the one who benefitted.
Such moments can win or lose matches. Remember Rana's India team-mate Deepti Sharma's run-out of Charlie Dean in September that sparked a heated debate in England? That won India an ODI at Lord's.
This time Rana was both the bowler and the captain. Warriorz were 74 for 3 in 8.4 overs chasing 179. If Harris had been dismissed then, after Giants had picked up three wickets in the powerplay, they could have ended their maiden WPL campaign with a victory.
Healy trusts her teen's spirit
"Parshavi was the game changer for us today."
When Sophie Ecclestone, one of the best spinners in T20 cricket, says that about a 16-year-old, you better believe it.
Chopra was the second highest wicket-taker at this year's Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa. After missing the Warriorz's first six games, she finally played against Mumbai Indians and though she went wicketless and conceded 35 runs in four overs, Chopra played with enough heart to show there was something special about her.
With Healy rotating her bowlers every over against the Giants, Chopra came in to bowl right after the powerplay, giving away eight runs to D Hemalatha and Gardner. Her next over came only in the 15th, when she was smacked for a boundary first ball but made a strong comeback by mixing up her deliveries to concede only four singles in the rest of the over.
In her third over, Chopra got Hemalatha to miscue a shot on 53, and her first wicket in the WPL was one that broke a partnership of 93. Gardner, the Player of the Women's T20 World Cup last month, smashed a six three balls later but Chopra still conceded only eight runs in the 17th over.
With two overs to go, Healy had already bowled out experienced spinners Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma, and so she turned to her young legspinner whose inspiration is the late Shane Warne.
How does Chopra respond? By dismissing the Giants MVP first ball of the 19th over. She flighted the ball, Gardner came down the track, missed, and was stumped. Chopra conceded only five runs in that over, fewer than what Ecclestone went for in the 20th.
With Giants looking good for a total closer to 200, Healy's decision to bowl Chopra at the death could have backfired. Instead, in a match won with one ball to spare, it proved to be a call that swung the momentum of the game towards the Warriorz.