WPL 2024: Grace Harris Sophie Ecclestone shine as UP Warriorz hammer Gujarat Giants

In an awe-inspiring performance, the UP Warriorz overpowered the Gujarat Giants in the eighth fixture of the ongoing Women’s Premier League 2024, seizing a decisive six-wicket victory on Friday. The Warriorz showcased a strong tactical game as they clinched their second win of the season, propelled by the mercurial talents of Sophie Ecclestone and Grace Harris. Ecclestone’s three-wicket haul was pivotal in curbing Gujarat’s run-scoring, setting them up for a modest total of 142 runs, while Grace Harris triumphed with a blistering 60* off mere 33 balls to steer the Warriorz to an overwhelming triumph.

The result of the match has had significant implications on the points table, where the Warriorz seized the third spot, equalizing with the Delhi Captials and Royal Challengers Bangalore. In contrast, the Gujarat Giants find themselves entangled in woes, rooted to the bottom, having faced defeats in all their three matches to date in this edition of WPL.

The Warriorz entered the fray buoyed by their recent emphatic victory over reigning champs Mumbai. The anticipated debut of the legendary Sri Lankan all-rounder Chamari Athapaththu, who replaced Tahlia McGrath, further strengthened their line-up, adding an edge to their strategic depth. Meanwhile, the Giants sought to rejig their formation with the inclusion of the South African sensation Laura Wolvaardt taking over from Lea Tahuhu.

Gujarat’s opening duo of captain Beth Mooney and Wolvaardt initiated the innings with promise, forging a 40-run stand that carried the whisper of a potential high tally. Nevertheless, Ecclestone’s exceptional bowling in the pivotal overs curbed their advance, claiming the wickets of both Mooney and a well-settled Wolvaardt.

Subsequent efforts by Australians Phoebe Litchfield and Ashleigh Gardner to anchor the innings, adding 52 crucial runs for the fourth wicket, were commendable but failed to substantially elevate the run rate. Ecclestone, once again, demonstrated her match-altering abilities by removing Gardner in the 19th over, ensuring that the Giants were left longing for a robust finish. Litchfield’s solid knock of 35 from 26 deliveries, alongside Gardner’s quickfire 30 from 17, added some competitive edge to the Giants’ total.

The Warriorz, undaunted, set forth on their chase with Alyssa Healy championing the cause with an aggressive 33 runs off just 21 balls. While the Giants’ did break through, Healy and Kiran Navgire’s dismissals in a brief span kept their hope alive. Yet, their resurgence was quashed by Harris’ ferocious batting display.

Harris, in her imperious form, stormed to a 30-ball fifty — her first for the season. Her efforts culminated in an unbeaten 53-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Deepti Sharma, which saw the Warriorz chase down the target with an impressive 4.2 overs to spare. Harris finished as the top scorer, with 60 runs off just 33 balls, and Deepti contributing a steady 17*, sealing a dominant win for their team.

The playing XIs for both teams featured formidable cricketers: Gujarat Giants lined up with Harleen Deol, Beth Mooney (captain & wicketkeeper), Laura Wolvaardt, Phoebe Litchfield, Ashleigh Gardner, Dayalan Hemalatha, Kathryn Bryce, Sneh Rana, Tanuja Kanwar, Mannat Kashyap, and Meghna Singh. In contrast, the UP Warriorz rolled out Alyssa Healy (captain & wicketkeeper), Kiran Navgire, Chamari Athapaththu, Grace Harris, Deepti Sharma, Shweta Sehrawat, Poonam Khemnar, Saima Thakor, Sophie Ecclestone, Anjali Sarvani, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

The match was not just a testament to the Warriorz’s cricketing prowess, but also a reflection of their strategic excellence and resilience. With this win, the UP Warriorz have firmly positioned themselves as contenders to watch out for in this riveting edition of the Women’s Premier League.

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