Women’s T20 Challenge: Magical Ecclestone blazes a trail for Trailblazers
The English left-arm spinner scythes through Velocity to snare four wickets
Sophie Ecclestone returned with magical figures as the Trailblazers floored Velocity in the second fixture of the Women’s T20 Challenge in Sharjah on Thursday.
The English left-arm spinner, who tops the ICC’s women’s T20 rankings with 777 points, blazed a trail for the Trailblazers, snaring four wickets as the runners-up of the inaugural edition eased past last year’s runners-up by nine wickets.
Ecclestone returned with standout figures of 3.1-1-9-4, while Indian pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami and left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad had identical figures of two for 13.
Velocity, who had played the first match of the competition against defending champions and two-time winners Supernovas, just hours ago, collapsed to 47 all out in 15.1 overs, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The Trailblazers lost captain and opener Smriti Mandhana but fellow opener Deandra Dottin and Richa Ghosh took them home in 7.5 overs.
Ecclestone took two wickets from two deliveries, those of skipper Mithali Raj and Veda Krishnamurthy. She then went on to claim wicketkeeper-batsman Sushma Verma and Jahanara Alam.
"It's great to be with a great bunch of girls,” Ecclestone, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, said at the post-match presentation.
“When the wickets aren't turning, you just keep varying the pace and look to bowl as straight as possible. It's nice to get a few wickets. Some of the youngsters are really good. They are teaching me some Hindi and I am getting to understand their culture," the 21-year-old said about her experience with some of the Indian players.
Meanwhile, Mandhana was delighted to get out on to the park after months of being in lockdown in India.
"We were really excited. We had a quarantine period of 14 days and training for 7 days. It was a good game after all of these months,” said Mandhana.
“I was going to field first anyway, so I was happy with Mithalidi's decision. We wanted to have a good look at the wicket. We wanted to know the target to chase. The bowling plans were according to the batters. I just told the bowlers to keep it back of a length, at the stumps, and look to the wicket to do the rest,” she added.
The 24-year-old was also chuffed to have a solid spin attack in her armoury.
“When I saw the teams, I thought we had a great spin attack, especially for UAE. Having a number of good spinners is a good headache to have. As a captain, I would take that anyday. It's an exciting tournament, and last year, we had some good talents who went on to play in the World Cup. Having Raja (Rajeshwari) bowling alongside someone like Sophie, and then Richa Ghosh, it will be good for Indian cricket,” said Mandhana, who is fourth on the list in the ODI batting rankings.
Velocity had beaten Supernovas in a thrilling opening fixture on Wednesday night.
After a day’s break on Friday, the Trailblazers take on the Supernovas on Saturday.
Velocity: 47 all out in 15.1 overs (Shafali Verma 13, Leigh Kasperek 11 not out, Shikha Pandey 10, Sophie Ecclestone 4-9, Jhulan Goswami 2-13, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2-13) lost to Trailblazers: 49-1 in 7.5 overs (Deandra Dottin 29 not out, Richa Ghosh 13 not out) by 9 wickets.
Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (C), Deandra Dottin, Richa Ghosh(w), Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Dayalan Hemalatha, Nattakan Chantam, Salma Khatun, Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami.
Velocity: Shafali Verma, Danielle Wyatt, Mithali Raj(c), Veda Krishnamurthy, Sushma Verma(w), Sune Luus, Shikha Pandey, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Ekta Bisht, Leigh Kasperek, Jahanara Alam.
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