WPL 2024: Royal Challengers Bangalore Hope for Winning Start Against Spin Heavy UP Warriorz


When the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) assembled their squad for the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) last year, it had the makings of a team with every chance of going deep in the tournament.

Yet, despite possessing a stellar batting line-up, with the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Devine and Ellyse Perry at the top and Richa Ghosh in the lower-order, and adequate bowling resources comprising of Renuka Singh Thakur, Megan Schutt and Shreyanka Patil, they failed to make an impression in the tournament, finishing fourth on the table.

At the auction held in December, many felt RCB had made the best purchases, with the buys of Georgia Wareham, Shubha Satheesh, Kate Cross and Ekta Bisht lending substantial batting and bowling depth to the squad.

ALSO READ | ‘Great’ Signing Chamari Athapaththu Makes Selection Tricky for UP Warriorz Captain Alyssa Healy

The team will hope that, unlike last season, Mandhana can get the big scores that is expected out of her at the top of the order. It would also mean that the pressure on Devine and Perry isn’t as much to help RCB either set a tall score or chase down a stiff target.

The side were dealt a late blow with middle-order batter and one of the positives from last season Kanika Ahuja was ruled out due to an injury, which might leave a hole in the middle.

The UP Warriorz, who finished third in the inaugural season of the tournament, added the quality of Danni Wyatt and included veteran left-arm spinner Gouhar Sultana to their squad at the auction.

They will also have in their mix a player who is being talked about a fair bit in Indian cricketing circles. Karnataka’s Vrinda Dinesh may not have yet played for India, but her exploits in 2023 where she was part of the Indian side that won the Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Hong Kong.

Dinesh offers an option for the Warriorz of opening the batting with captain Alyssa Healy, which could also present her with an opportunity to show her batting potential to the viewing public. They will also hope the likes of Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris offer firepower in the middle to support Healy and others at the top.

The Warriorz will also want the bowlers put in an improved showing this time around, unlike last year. The onus will be on the likes of Deepti Sharma, Sophie Ecclestone and Rajeshwari Gayakwad to carry the bowling and they will hope that Anjali Sarvani can lift her game one level up and deliver the goods with the new ball.

The crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday is anticipated to favour RCB, but if the Warriorz can lift their game in all three departments then one could be in for a Saturday evening cliffhanger.

What: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs UP Warriorz, Match 2, Women’s Premier League 2024

When: February 24, 2024, 7:30 PM IST

Where: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

The unavailability of Ahuja means RCB have a hole in the middle-order to fill, which means the likes of Perry, Disha Kasat and Richa Ghosh will need to step up and be counted for the side to either set a score or track down a target.

Likely playing XI: Smriti Mandhana (captain), Sophie Devine, Sabbhineni Meghana, Elysse Perry, Disha Kasat, Richa Ghosh (wk), Georgia Wareham, Shreyanka Patil, Kate Cross, Renuka Singh Thakur, Ekta Bisht.

UP Warriorz

The Warriorz have a settled overseas core, which would mean that Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu may not get a game in her side’s tournament opener on Saturday.

Likely playing XI: Alyssa Healy, Vrinda Dinesh, Shweta Sehrawat, Tahlia McGrath, Kiran Navgire, Grace Harris, Deepti Sharma, Sophie Ecclestone, Anjali Sarvani, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Parshavi Chopra.

QUOTE UNQUOTE

“She’s practising really well. She’s in a really confident and happy space with her cricket and the leadership. Obviously, there’s responsibility with captaining and opening the batting,” RCB coach Luke Williams on Smriti Mandhana’s mindset ahead of Saturday’s match.

“It’s going to be a really difficult conversation for management and myself as well as to who’s playing in the eleven and what opportunities everyone’s going to get. They’re really good problems to have and she’s in great form,” Warriorz skipper Alyssa Healy on Athapaththu’s inclusion in the playing XI on Saturday.



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