Debutant Sajana takes Mumbai home with nerveless last-ball six

S Sajana roars in delight after slamming her first ball - and the last of the innings - for six to take Mumbai Indians home BCCI

Mumbai Indians 173 for 6 (Bhatia 57, Harmanpreet 55, Capsey 2-23, Reddy 2-27) beat Delhi Capitals 171 for 5 (Capsey 75, Rodrigues 42, Sciver-Brunt 2-33) by four wickets

The opening evening of the second season of the Women's Premier League ended like it started - in a blockbuster fashion.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians won a last-ball thriller by four wickets to kickstart their title defence in Bengaluru. A movie-like ending - after the game swung one way and then the other - was only apt after an opening ceremony headlined by the who's-who of Bollywood.

Chasing a challenging target of 172, Mumbai needed 22 off the last two overs with captain Harmanpreet Kaur set. She hit a six off the last ball of the penultimate over to bring the equation down to 12 off 6. Capitals turned to the part-time off-spin of Alice Capsey with the longer boundary on the leg side. The move nearly worked after she dismissed Pooja Vastrakar and Harmanpreet in the first five balls.

But with five needed off one, Kerala allrounder S Sajana, playing her first WPL match, walloped Capsey over long-on to spark celebrations in the strong crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Only hours ago, Capsey had starred by scoring a 53-ball 75 - aided by a dropped catch by Sajana - but her night ended in disappointment.

Bhatia powers Mumbai's chase

Mumbai lost Hayley Matthews to the second ball of the chase, when the opener tried to drive Marizanne Kapp and edged behind. Yastika Bhatia got off the mark with a delightful drive past wide mid-off. She then hit Annabel Sutherland for two fours before going after Shikha Pandey in the last over of the powerplay.

Bhatia lofted her over mid-off before getting a thick outside edge past the wicketkeeper. She then hit a short delivery over deep midwicket as Mumbai raced to 50 for 1 after six overs.

Arundhati Reddy struck with her first ball for Capitals, yorking Nat Sciver-Brunt with an inswinging slower one, but Bhatia powered on. She brought up her fifty off 35 balls and looked set to bat through the chase. But she found Kapp at deep midwicket when she heaved across the line at another slower one from Reddy.

Harmanpreet takes over

Harmanpreet got off the mark with a crisp cover drive first ball. She rotated strike and found boundaries regularly even after Bhatia holed out. The pace of Sutherland and Kapp, as the chase got tighter, helped her. She hit a massive six over long-on to bring up a 32-ball fifty. It seemed like we'd seen it before - she had struck a half-century in a successful chase in the opening game of WPL 2023, too.

But Mumbai's chase seemed to lose steam once she was dismissed, before Sajana did the unthinkable.

Ismail breathes fire

When Mumbai bought Shabnim Ismail at the auction, there was talk of her being a back-up for Issy Wong. But she not only started WPL 2024 ahead of Wong but also bowled an opening spell that dispelled all notions of her being a back-up. Ismail started with a one-run first over which was backed up by left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque from the other end.

Ismail then struck with the first ball of her second over - a 118kph delivery bowling Shafali Verma, who cleared her front leg and looked to mow across the line. Capitals scored only 26 for 1 in the powerplay, with Ismail's figures reading 3-0-10-1. She then returned at the death, where a dropped catch denied her the wicket of a set Capsey.

C for Capitals, C for Capsey

Meg Lanning and Capsey had rebuilt Capitals' innings steadily before the shackles were broken in the first over after the powerplay. Capsey danced down to loft Amelia Kerr over extra cover before Lanning did the same to hit over mid-on. Another legspinner, WPL debutant SB Keerthana, was taken for 13 in her only over. When Lanning and Capsey hit a six and a four in Kerr's next over, Capitals had managed to score 37 in three overs after the field restrictions were lifted. One over after the timeout though, Sciver-Brunt managed to get the better of Lanning.

Despite losing the captain, Capsey accelerated, hitting two sixes and a four off Matthews to bring up a half-century off just 36 balls. Along with Jemimah Rodrigues, who combined deft touch and aggression, Capitals managed to find boundaries regularly heading into the death overs. Capsey and Rodrigues added 74 off just 40 balls before Capsey missed a reverse sweep to get trapped lbw off Kerr.

Rodrigues also showed her power by regularly peppering the on-side boundary. She deposited an Ismail slower one over long-on before clubbing a slower bouncer from Sciver-Brunt over deep midwicket.

A final flourish from Kapp, who hit three fours in the last over, helped Capitals finish on 171. But that was not enough for Mumbai, who maintained their perfect record in chases in the WPL.

MI Women 2nd innings Partnerships

1st0HK MatthewsYH Bhatia
2nd50Nat Sciver-BruntYH Bhatia
3rd56H KaurYH Bhatia
4th44H KaurAC Kerr
5th10H KaurP Vastrakar
6th7H KaurAB Kaur
7th6S SajanaAB Kaur