Harris, McGrath shine as UP Warriorz book play-offs berth with 3-wicket win over Gujarat Giants

Mumbai, Mar 20 (IANS): Riding high on classy knocks by Grace Harris and Tahlia McGrath along with Sophie Ecclestone's thrilling show in the final over, UP Warriorz stunned Gujarat Giants by three wickets here at Brabourne Stadium to seal their berth in play-offs in the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) here on Monday.

Reeling at 39/3 in the powerplay, the Warriorz shifted the momentum into their favour to Harris' 72 off 41, decorated with seven boundaries and four maximums, and MacGrath's 57 off 38, including 11 boundaries.

Chasing 179, the Warriorz suffered a major blow early in the innings as Monica Patel struck in the second over to send skipper Alyssa Healy cheaply for 12. Healy was slightly early into her pull shot and got a top edge and the ball flew towards deep square leg, where Harleen Deol took an easy catch.

In the next over, Kim Garth removed Kiran Navgire on a short ball as the batter tried to pull across the line but got a top edge and the ball arrowed towards mid-on where Laura Wolvaardt pouched it safely. Warriors were in some early trouble, reduced to 30 for 2 in four overs.

The Giants missed a huge opportunity in the fifth over when Tanuja Kanwar dropped Tahlia McGrath after a misjudgment and conceded a boundary. But she did damage control quickly in the form of Devika Vaidya's wicket.

Devika looked to flick a Length delivery from Tanuja and expected it to turn but the ball went straight to the wicketkeeper and Sushma Verma was quick to whip off the bails.

After getting dropped, McGrath shifted gears and hit three boundaries in the sixth over, taking the powerplay total to 53/3.

With the support of Garce Harris from the other end, McGrath kept the Giants' bowlers at bay, hitting boundaries at regular intervals to keep the asking run rate in check.

Halfway through the match, the duo of Harris and McGrath completed a 50-run partnership for the fourth wicket with the latter getting close to her half-century. After touching the 100-run mark in the 12th over, Harris hit two maximums and a boundary in that over to accelerate the run rate.

In the next over, McGarth drove the half-volley from Tanuja through covers for a boundary and brought up her fifty off just 34 balls. However, after her half-century, she didn't extend her stay longer at the crease as Sneh Rana put a full stop on her classy knock of 57-run, also ending the 78-run fourth-wicket stand. All-rounder Deepti Sharma came to join Grace Harris.

Sneh struck again and claimed a huge wicket in the form of Deepti, reducing the Warriorz to 130/5 in 15 overs.

When Warrriorz needed 41 from 24 balls, Harris completed her fifty against the Giants. She then shuffled across and hammered it over wide mid-on to get a one-bounce four on the next ball, building pressure on Giants with her well-timed shots.

Harris got lucky after she slog-swept towards long-on but didn't get much elevation, Sneh run in and dived but the ball doesn't stick in her hands. Harris got into position quickly and pulled over square leg and then hit the boundary cushion for a six.

Then, Sophie Ecclestone joined the party in the penultimate over and sliced it over covers for four, bringing the equation to 14 from 10 balls to win. After a single on the next ball, Grace went for another maximum over long-on and 7 runs were needed off 8 balls for a win.

But there was a twist in the tale as Harris' departed after a terrific knock. She went for another big hit down the ground but doesn't get the connection right. The ball hit the toe-end of her bat and flew down the ground towards long-on where Harleen took it easily.

The drama continued in the final over as Kim Garth missed a caught and bowled opportunity. With 4 needed off 4, Simran Shaikh and Ecclestone were fighting for every single, one before the latter got run out in a close call.

Ecclestone hit the full-toss towards long-on and called her partner through for the couple. Gardner threw it back to Sneh Rana and Simran was struggling to make her crease as the bowler took the bails off.

On the penultimate ball of the match, Ecclestone walked across her stumps and paddled it through the fine leg for a boundary to seal the deal for Warriorz.

Earlier batting first, Gujarat Giants posted 178 with the help of scintillating knocks from Dayalan Hemalatha (57 off 33) and Ashleigh Gardner (60 off 39).

After a strong start to their innings, Giants lost the top three batters inside the Power-play. Then Hemalatha and Gardner came to their rescue. While the latter was dealing in singles, Hemalatha on the other hand was quick to collect runs with boundaries. The duo established a brilliant 93-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Hemalatha survived a close LBW call in the 13th over and the next moment hammered the low full-toss from Deepti Sharma over the deep mid-wicket for a maximum.

After notching up her half-century off just 30 balls, Hemalatha's brilliant knock came to an end in the 17th over. Afterwards, Gardner held the fort and brought up her second half-century in four games, with a boundary off the bowling of Deepti Sharma.

The next moment she lifted the short ball for a six. Then, Anjali struck again sending Gardner back to the hut in the 18th over for a score of 60.

In the final over of the innings, Ecclestone got her much-needed wicket to top the Purple Cap list by dismissing Ashwani Kumari, who tried to go for a big one but missed it as the ball rapped on the pads.

With a single on the penultimate ball of the innings, followed by a dot ball, Giants posted 178 on the board for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs, which in the end did not prove enough to thwart the Warriors from sealing their berth in the playoffs.

Brief scores:

Gujarat Giant 178/6 in 20 0vers (Dayalan Hemalatha 57, Ashleigh Gardner 60; Parshavi Chopra 2-29, Rajeshari Gayakwad 2-39 lost to UP Warriorz 181/7 in 20 overs (Grace Harris 72, Tahlia McGrath 57; Kim Garth 2-029) by 3 wickets.



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Title: Harris, McGrath shine as UP Warriorz book play-offs berth with 3-wicket win over Gujarat Giants

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