RCB outplay DC, emerge WPL champions

Royal Challengers Bangalore players pose with the trophy. Photo: PTI/Atul Yadav

New Delhi: A spirited Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) landed their maiden title, which came through an eight-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in front of a cheering full house in the Women's Premier League final here on Sunday.

Once the spin trio of Shreyanka Patil (4/12), Sophie Molineux (3/20) and Asha Shobhana (2/14) bundled DC out for 113, there could have been only one winner.

But the formalities had to be completed. RCB did it via their talismanic skipper Smriti Mandhana (31), Sophie Devine (32) and the impactful Elysse Perry (35 not out).

RCB made 115/2 in 19.3 overs, a far easier victory than that tight-looking final-over finish.

DC, led by Meg Lanning, will rue the missed chance of bettering their runners-up position from WPL 2023, whereas RCB improved their fourth-place finish last year in a brilliant fashion.

Chasing a modest target, RCB started cautiously with the pair of Mandhana and Devine sharing 49 runs in 8.1 overs.

While Mandhana played the role of an anchor, Devine opted to attack, decorating her innings with five boundaries and one maximum before she was trapped in front by pacer Shikha Pandey.

The wicket seemed to have slowed down RCB as Mandhana and Perry struggled to find their timing as boundaries dried up.

Perry finally broke the shackles in the 13th over, hitting pacer Arundhati Reddy to the deep midwicket boundary and then two balls later Mandhana cut the bowler to backward point fence.

RCB reached 82/1 in the 15th over but a rash shot from Mandhana led to her downfall.

The left-hander skied a Minnu Mani delivery to Reddy at mid-on to keep the contest alive.

But Perry continued her fine run and in the company of Richa Ghosh (17 not out) calmly helped RCB overhaul the target. Richa finished off the chase in style with a four off Reddy.

The RCB spinners can claim rightful credit for this triumph. DC were cruising at 64 for no loss in seven over before they committed hara-kiri, losing all 10 wickets for just 49 runs in front of a 28,781 capacity crowd, who looked divided in their loyalties.

Sophie Molineux, second left, celebrates with teammates after picking up a wicket. Photo: X@wplt20

Molineux started DC's downfall, picking up three wickets in the eighth over.

Thereafter, the hosts never really recovered, losing wickets at regular intervals, courtesy some loose shots and off-spinner Shreyanka's exploits in the middle and late overs.

It came after Lanning (23 off 23) and Shafali Verma (44 off 27) looked in a different world as they upped the tempo in a linear fashion.

Lanning played the second fiddle as Shafali went hammer and tongs after a slow start in the first 11 balls.

Shafali was particularly destructive straight down the ground as she slammed her first three sixes in that region.

She opened up her arms in the final delivery of the second over when she went down on her knee to dispatch Molineux over long-on for the first six of the innings.

The right-arm pacer Renuka Singh was taken to task in the fourth over, which yielded 19 runs.

Shafali started the onslaught clobbering the bowler over her head for a six, which eventually inspired Lanning.

She struck two boundaries off the last two deliveries of the same over to match her partner as DC reached 52 in five overs.

But RCB managed to put brakes on DC when Molineux scalped three wickets in the eighth over, dismissing Shafali, Jemmimah Rodrigues and Alice Capsey.

After reaching 72 for 3 at the halfway mark, DC's mainstay Lanning, who was trying to resurrect the innings, departed, getting trapped leg before by Shreyanka.

Shreyanka Patil, third right, celebrates with teammates after sending back Meg Lanning. Photo: PTI/Atul Yadav

Thereafter, the home team kept losing wickets in search of unnecessary big shots to stumble to 81/6.

It was mayhem for DC as they lost seven wickets for mere 23 runs in that period and the recovery never came forth.

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