Captain Harmanpreet Kaur struck a sensational half century as Supernovas clinched the Women's T20 Challenge with a four-wicket victory over Velocity in a dramatic final, in Jaipur, on Saturday.
Kaur (51), later adjudged 'Player of the Match', produced a late onslaught on the Velocity bowlers after the Supernovas made heavy weather of a small chase of 122. The Supernovas overhauled the target off the last delivery in the run-chase, reaching 125 for 6 from 20 overs.
Jemimah Rodrigues was named 'Player of the Series'.
Coming out to bat in the 11th over at the team score of 53 for 2, India’s T20 captain scored a quickfire 51 off 37 balls, which was studded with four boundaries and three sixes, to take her side to the threshold of victory.
The Supernovas needed seven from the final over, but drama unfolded as Kaur was out to the second delivery, which raised the visions of a Velocity victory. But Lea Tahuhu (2 not out) and Radha Yadav (10 not out) kept their nerve to score the required runs in a tense finish.
Radha Yadav hit a four off the last delivery to clinch the match.
The Supernovas struggled initially with the Velocity bowlers not allowing them runs easily.
Opener Chamari Atapattu was run out for 2 in the second over itself while going for a third run but Jemimah Rodrigues (22) and Priya Punia (29) steadied the run-chase with a 44-run stand for the second wicket.
Runs were hard to come by, with the Velocity bowlers stifling the Supernova batswomen. They were dealt a blow as Rodrigues and Punia fell off consecutive deliveries, leaving them in trouble.
Rodrigues fell to Amelia Kerr who took a catch off her own bowling off the final delivery of the 10th over while Punia was dismissed by Vaidya to the first ball of the 11th over.
The Supernovas were 53 for 2 at the half-way stage, needing 69 from 10 overs, and pressure began to mount on them.
Bangladesh bowler Jahanara Alam then removed Natalie Sciver (2) and Sophie Devine (3) in consecutive overs (14th and 16th) to reduce Supernovas to 64 for 5 in the 16th over.
The Supernovas needed 45 runs from the final five overs and Kaur showed why she is considered the country’s premier batswoman with a flurry of boundaries. She hit two fours off Jahanara Alam in the 16th over and followed it up with two sixes off Devika Vaidya in the 18th to take her side near the victory target.
Earlier, Supernovas produced a clinical bowling display to restrict Velocity to 121 for 6.
Sent in to bat, Velocity suffered a batting collapse and were reduced to 37 for 5 in the eighth over before Amelia Kerr (36) and Sushma Verma (40 not out) stitched 71 runs in 10.5 overs for the sixth wicket to take the side to a respectable total.
But for the superb late fightback by Kerr and Verma, Velocity would not have even crossed the 100-run mark.
Wicketkeeper-batswoman Verma top-scored for Velocity with a 32-ball 40 not out, which was lashed with three fours and a six.
Kerr, who holds the record of scoring highest individual runs (232 not out) in ODIs, hit 36 off 38 deliveries which had four boundaries in it.
Velocity made a disastrous start, losing a wicket each in the first three overs to be reduced to 14 for 3.
New Zealand pacewoman Lea Tahuhu swung the second ball of the innings away from Hayley Mathews, who edged it to the ‘keeper for a duck. Danielle Wyatt (0) went for a pre-meditated shot in the next over bowled by Anuja Patil but failed to connect with the ball due to a late drift and was stumped.
Shafali Verma (0) hit the first four of the innings in the third over bowled by Tuhuhu who, however, had the last laugh by dismissing the batswoman the next delivery with Anuja Patil taking the catch.
A brief period of recovery intervened with captain Mithali Raj (12) and Veda Krishnamurthy (8) stitching a 23-run partnership for the fourth wicket before both the batswomen fell in a heap in the space of four deliveries without addition of any run.
It left the Velocity innings in a mess at 73 for 5 in the eighth over before Kerr and Verma rescued their side with a superb partnership.
For the Supernovas, Tuhuhu took two wickets for 21 runs while Patil, Devine and Poonam Yadav grabbed a wicket each.