As Supernovas recovered from 18/3 to 150/5 — largely thanks to their skipper Harmanpreet Kaur who took the innings deep, scoring 71 off 51 — after finishing their first game just over 14 hours ago, they knew what they were up against: a power-packed batting line-up featuring Shafali Verma, Kiran Navgire, Natthakan Chantam, Yastika Bhatia, Laura Wolvaardt, Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana. What made them even more dangerous is that at least five of the top seven could bat in any slot depending on match situation.
Which is why, when Chantham walked out to open with Shafali instead of Kiran, it was an understandable move. Muscle at one end and finesse at the other. In fact, that would be the theme of Velocity’s batting approach over the course of the next 90 minutes as Supernovas were left with no answers, losing the match by seven wickets.
Starting against the World’s No 1 T20I bowler, Shafali did not waste any time to take her on as she smacked Sophie Ecclestone down the ground off the very second delivery. Although Pooja Vastrakar got rid of Chantham, that had very little effect on the 18-year-old, who shuffled across and flicked her for a boundary in the same over.
Yastika, who came in at No 3, drove Meghna Singh through cover point, keeping up with the theme. But over the next 23 balls, all the southpaw had to do was turn the strike over to Shafali as the swashbuckling opener showed why she is one of the most exciting batting talents going around.
She whacked Vastrakar over midwicket, guided her through point; jumped out of the crease to launch Ecclestone down the ground, not once but twice. Karnataka off-spinner Chandu V might have dreams about how Shafali tonked her into the stands with all her might as Velocity finished the powerplay with 60/1.
Yastika got out shortly after, and replacing her was a world-class ODI opener who is known for her timing — Wolvaardt. Shafali reached her fifty in 30 balls, and seemed unstoppable. In the end, it took a stunning catch from Harmanpreet at short-third man to eventually get rid of the opener.
However, the baton had been passed. Wolvaardt took over, building a partnership with her skipper Deepti over the next few overs. It seemed like things were going quietly with very little action happening. But Wolvaardt had swept Ecclestone behind square for a four. And when the desperate Harmanpreet — to whom she had got out to in South Africa’s final league game in the World Cup — came along, she pierced the gap between point and thirdman before pulling her for another boundary.
It only got better when she brought out her trademark cover drive against Chandu. Wolvaardt forged her glorious timing with the delicate touches, guides, nudges, taking Velocity closer to victory.
In fact, she resorted to some muscle only in the end, launching Deandra Dottin for a 83m six to reach her half-century in 35 balls. There was no fuss, no extravagance, just Wolvaardt doing what she does best to take the team home with ten balls to spare.
Muscle and finesse, just like that, from beginning to end.
Brief scores: Supernovas 150/5 in 20 ovs (Harmanpreet 71; Cross 2/24) lost to Velocity 151/3 in 18.2 ovs (Shafali 51, Wolvaardt 51 n.o).