Mumbai Indians, the Maximum Team of the WPL Later in the evening, the same crowd was chanting Shafali’s name when she fielded at the boundary. But cheering is different from choosing a side, and for the Mumbai Indians faithful, it was club over country throughout the WPL. And the loyal supporters were rewarded with Harmanpreet Kaur lifting the trophy, beating Meg Lanning’s Delhi Capitals in a well-contested final.
Since the WPL was played in only one city, Mumbai, the already formidable team got an edge: a readymade, vocal, engaged fanbase that has spilt over from the IPL. And the Mumbai Indians team basked in it right from the start.
A lesser team could well have drowned in that ocean of blue, especially after seemingly losing steam at the business end of the league. They had to play an extra match – the Eliminator – against UP Warriorz, the team that had snapped their winning streak. But when it came down to it, Mumbai proved to be the clutch team that lifted themselves at the right time with the big guns firing.
In the final, it was the four overseas players who led the way: Wong (3 for 42), Hayley Matthews (3 for 5) and Amelia Kerr (2 for 18) with the ball, and Nat Sciver-Brunt (60 not out in 55 balls) with the bat, with Harmanpreet (37 in 39) and Kerr (14 not out in eight) for support.
Overall, three Mumbai players – Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet and Matthews – finished among the WPL’s top five run-getters, with one more, Yastika Bhatia, among the 13 to cross the 200-run mark. With the ball, four of the top five wicket-takers were Mumbai bowlers: Matthews, Wong, Kerr and Saika Ishaque. Sciver-Brunt was just outside the top five.
Big guns, big results. Mumbai’s men have known how it works for long. Now the women know too.
That final, in a way, was a summary of Mumbai’s season: a dominant start, then a dip in intensity, and then a big comeback.
Wong got three wickets with three full-tosses to reduce Delhi to 38 for 3 in the powerplay. Matthews, the winner of the purple cap, and Kerr dusted off the rest on a track aiding spin. Amanjot Kaur, who has barely got a chance to bat or bowl but has shone on the field, chipped in with the crucial run-out of orange-cap-holder Lanning. That was the domination at the beginning.