WPL: Minnu Mani impresses before Shafali fires DC into final

Delhi Capitals' batter Shafali Verma plays a shot during the Women's Premier League (WPL) match against Gujarat Giants in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The big-hitting Shafali Verma led the way with a blazing 37-ball 71 as a dominant Delhi Capitals (DC) secured direct qualification into the final of the Women's Premier League with a seven-wicket hammering of Gujarat Giants here on Wednesday.

Table-toppers DC entered the game looking to bag a direct spot in the final and once their bowlers restricted Giants to 126 for nine with a disciplined show at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, the hosts inched closer to realising their goal.

In the final on Sunday, DC will play the winner of the eliminator between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

As she is wont to, Shafali launched into a furry of boundaries, including hitting as many as five sixes and seven fours, to help her side complete the chase of 127 without much ado. DC finished the game with as many as 41 balls remaining.

Shafali reached her fifty in just 28 balls. She got to the landmark with a four over extra cover off Mannat Kashyap.

The duo of Shafali and Jemimah Rodrigues (38 not out) then bludgeoned Meghna Singh for 20 runs, and Ashleigh Gardner was also carted for 28 runs in two overs.

Delhi Capitals' bowler Minnu Mani celebrates the wicket of Gujarat Giants' batter Phoebe Litchfield during the Women's Premier League (WPL) match in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Earlier, the DC bowlers produced a fine effort to restrict Gujarat Giants to a modest total.

If it was not for Bharati Fulmali's 36-ball 42 and Kathryn Bryce's unbeaten 28, Giants would have finished with a much lower total.

South African veteran Marizanne Kapp led the way with fine figures of 2/17 in four overs, bowling beautifully in the powerplay, while there were also two wickets apiece for Shikha Pandey and Keralite Minnu Mani.

Gugarat Giants' decision to bat first on winning the toss backfired as they found themselves in a spot of bother at 12/2 in the fourth over, including losing the big wicket of skipper Beth Mooney for a duck to South African all-rounder Kapp in the match's very first over.

Mooney shaped up to flick a length delivery on the leg stump but the ball brushed past her thigh pad before going on to disturb the leg and middle stump.

Dayalan Hemalatha (4) was the next batter to depart, bowled by Jess Jonassen as DC tasted early success.

Another setback awaited Giants as they lost Laura Wolvaardt (7), the successful bowler being Kapp again as the visitors slumped to 16/3 in the beginning of the fifth over.

Unable to force the pace, Wolvaardt was under pressure and succumbed in the face of some disciplined bowling by Kapp.

Experienced Australian player Ashleigh Gardner (12) and Phoebe Litchfield (21) looked to steady the innings but having added 23 runs for the fourth wicket, the former perished to a lovely flighted delivery from off-spinner Minnu.

Giants were tottering at 39/4 in the ninth over and the situation became worse for them when Radha Yadav pulled off a nice catch to send back Litchfield off the bowling of Mani.

At 48/5 in the 11th over, Giants were in a hopeless situation but Fulmali and Kathryn Bryce put on 68 runs to help the side cross 120 and give their bowlers something to defend.

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