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Jhulan Goswami to R Yadav: Best XI of Women’s T20 Challenge

Despite being a four-match long tournament, the Women’s T20 Challenge saw cricketing stalwarts like Jhulan Goswami and Smriti Mandhana raising a desert storm in Sharjah. With the Trailblazers getting the better of Supernovas to lift the title this edition, we look at the best eleven from the week-long tournament.

 

CHAMARI ATHAPATHU (Supernovas)

Probably the most consistent player of the tournament, Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu stole the show with her willow at the Women’s T20 Challenge. Though the southpaw fired a blank in the final on Monday, the Supernovas will be indebted to her opening knocks of 44 against Velocity and 67 against Trailblazers that provided a smooth sail for her side into the final.

 

SMRITI MANDHANA (Trailblazers) [C]

The Trailblazers skipper started slowly before ensuring a title-winning performance in the final. With Smriti Mandhana’s initial contributions with the bat being low, the captain relied on her brilliant rotation of bowlers to provide the perfect matchups as the Trailblazers qualified for the final from an unlikely scenario. But Mandhana clicked in the final, scoring 68 off 49 balls with five boundaries and three sixes to her name as Trailblazers’ target of 118 proved too much for the Supernovas.

 

HARMANPREET KAUR (Supernovas)

Not the campaign that Harmanpreet Kaur envisaged before coming to UAE but the Supernovas skipper got very little time to hit third gear as the tournament finished in just six days. However, Kaur should be commended for her consistency with the bat and taking responsibility with the ball as well, when it was needed against Trailblazers in the final league game. Unfortunately, Kaur’s 30 runs fell short in the final as she did not get any support from the top order in the ultimate match.

 

DEEPTI SHARMA (Trailblazers)

Easily the best utility player now – not only in the Women’s T20 Challenge but in women’s international cricket – Deepti Sharma started her campaign with brilliant bowling as she choked Velocity with an economy rate of 2. The Trailblazers all-rounder conceded just eight runs in four overs, bowling 16 dot balls. After her team faltered with the ball against the Supernovas in the second league match, Deepti Sharma’s unbeaten 43 almost won her side the match. Sharma could not repeat her batting heroics in the final, but she took two wickets in three overs to lift the title.

 

SUNE LUUS (Velocity)

South African cricketer Sune Luus didn’t have the most glittering of campaigns at the Women’s T20 League, but she remained a trusted general for captain Mithali Raj both with the bat and the ball. Velocity’s campaign was shortened to just two matches and their nine-wicket loss to the Trailblazers eventually brought an end to their tournament. However, Luus’ efficacy was evident against the Supernovas where after a gritty and unbeaten 37 with the bat, the tail-ender contributed with the ball as well.

 

SUSHMA VERMA (Velocity)

Honestly, the Velocity player is on the list largely because of her ability with the gloves behind the wicket. Like most players in the Velocity team, Sushma Verma’s contribution was limited to their match versus Supernovas where her 34-run knock helped Velocity post a target of 130 and eventually won them the game. Though Verma boasts of having a safe pair of hands, she ended her Women’s T20 Challenge campaign with no stumps or catches.

 

LEIGH KASPEREK (Velocity)

The Kiwi all-rounder was a handy option down the middle order but remained under-utilized by Mithali Raj. Leigh Kasperek played only two matches and was amongst her team’s more effective players on both the occasions. While Kasperek ended her first match scalping two wickets against Supernovas, she contributed by taking a wicket against Trailblazers by conceding just five runs after scoring 11 with the bat.

 

JHULAN GOSWAMI (Trailblazers)

Like the men’s Indian T20 League, the women’s tournament also saw bowlers running riot on UAE pitches, and leading the line was veteran Indian bowler Jhulan Goswami. The 37-year-old pacer’s best figures came in Trailblazers’ first league match against Velocity where she scalped a brace for just 13 runs, which was followed by another wicket against Supernovas. However, the West Bengal pacer’s strength didn’t lie in her wicket-taking ability but her economy. Goswami bowled an unbelievable 42 dot balls in the 72 balls available to her.

 

SOPHIE ECCLESTONE (Trailblazers)

Smriti Mandhana would pick the towering Englishwoman as her biggest weapon in winning the Women’s T20 Challenge for taking the single most important wicket of Chamari Athapaththu in Trailblazers’ final against Supernovas. While Sophie Ecclestone picked only a wicket in the final, the Lancashire orthodox bowler was instrumental for her side with her figures of 4/9 versus Velocity and her economic spell against the Supernovas in the league games.

 

SALMA KHATUN (Trailblazers)

The 30-year-old Bangladeshi spinner was part of Trailblazers’ bowling trio that won the title for the team. Salma Khatun got just two overs with the ball against Velocity but she conceded just 4 runs in those 12 balls to stake her claim. She got her quota of four overs in the second league match where she took a wicket before she excelled in the final by scalping 3/18 to take her side home.

 

RADHA YADAV (Velocity)

While a batting-heavy Supernovas side had little reliance on their bowlers, Harmanpreet Kaur’s complacence was understood with Radha Yadav on her side. Though Supernovas lost the final quite unbelievably, the slow left-arm orthodox bowler from Mumbai has everyone talking with her mind-boggling display. Yadav ended her campaign with a whopping eight wickets from three matches, the best of which came in the final against Trailblazers. Conceding just 16 runs, Yadav took five wickets to cut the opponents’ target to just 119. Yadav had taken three wickets in the league stages.

 

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