Submitted by Amith Chakrapani on Sun, 02/25/2024 - 08:37

Asha Sobhana knits magic at Chinnaswamy to clinch thriller for RCB-W against UP Warriorz

25 Feb, 2024
Asha Sobhana knits magic at Chinnaswamy to clinch thriller for RCB-W against UP Warriorz
25 Feb, 2024 By Editor

It was a thrilling finish to the curtain-raiser of the tournament for the RCB Women as they edged past the UP Warriorz in a pulsating encounter that was alive till the final ball of the game. It needed some persistent coaxing from RCB, while a display of the highest order from leggie Asha Sobhana sealed the fate of the contest.

After being put to bat, RCB came an early cropper as they lost Sophie Devine for 1. Smriti Mandhana couldn’t add too many runs either, falling for a modest 13. Things started looking bleaker for the hosts with their star all-rounder Ellyse Perry departing for just eight.

With RCB wobbling at 54/3, it was an impeccable display from the seasoned campaigner, Sabbineni Meghana (53) and the hard-hitting Richa Ghosh (62) that bailed out the hosts. The duo knitted together 71 runs for the fourth wicket before Meghana and Georgia Wareham (0) fell in quick succession.

Richa carried the fight till the very end before being cleaned up by Deepti Sharma while Shreyanka Patil’s maximum on the final ball of the innings allowed RCB-W to pile up 157 runs at the end of their innings.

With a power-packed batting line-up for UP Warriorz, the Women in Red and Gold needed a masterclass to defy the early steam that could have been procured by the visitors.

Much to the surprise of the Warriorz, Sophie Molineux cleaned up the dangerous Alyssa Healy for just five runs as she sneaked one past her outside edge, getting the ball to clip the off-stump. Despite Healy’s fall, the much-talked-about Vrinda Dinesh (18) and Tahlia McGrath (22) helped UP to settle their frayed nerves.

Just when it felt that UP Warriorz would possibly take the game away through that very partnership itself, it was the introduction of Asha Sobhana who later proved to be the match-winning magician for RCB on the day.

Trying to go with the turn on a looped up delivery from Asha, Vrinda came dancing down the track. Much to the former’s surprise, the ball spun past her, allowing Richa Ghosh to register her first stumping of the night. A poor shot selection from McGrath laced with the grit and gumption from Asha to toss another one up proved to be the unravelling of the Australian.

As fate would have it, the double whammy from Asha would only muddle the senses of the Warriorz temporarily as Shweta Sehrawat (31) and Grace Harris (38) allowed UP to claw their way back into the game. Forging a 77-run stand for the fourth wicket, the visitors were well en route for a remarkable win.

However, whatever celebratory plans that were in place for Healy and company had to wait as Asha struck again on her return for the final over and this time her exploits were better than what she pulled off in her last spell.

Shweta, who looked so good until then could only reach halfway to the pitch of the ball and caught in doldrums, she went for the drive anyway only to hole out one to Smriti Mandhana, who snapped a sharp take at extra cover. 

Three balls later, Harris’ miscued attempt to sweep a slower length ball from the leggie ended up leaving her timber crashed and burnt. Asha finished things on a historic note, clinching only the second fifer in the history of WPL 2024 as she sneaked one past the vigil of an advancing Kiran Navgire, while Richa completed the remainder of the task efficiently.

That one over from Asha changed the complexion of the game completely. However, UP Warriorz had enough experience in their ranks to still try and make RCB-W sweat. Poonam Khemnar, who smacked two back to back fours against Wareham was lining up for a third, only to be foxed by a quicker on the middle stump.

With 11 needed off the final over, Sophie Molineux’s experience came to the fore as she left Deepti and Sophie Ecclestone stranded in a land of a heartbreak with UP Warriorz falling agonizingly short of the stipulated total. RCB-W won the match by two runs while Asha Sobhana was the obvious pick for the Player of the Match award.