🏏WPL 2023 - RCB W vs GG W, Match 16 at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on 18/03/2023 at 7:30PM IST 🏏
Their WPL 2023 campaign on life support, Royal Challengers Bangalore have just one thing in their control - win the two remaining league games by comprehensive margins, starting with the reverse fixture against Gujarat Giants who indeed complicated the route for them.
Confusing? It is! RCB's WPL seemed dusted after five straight defeats to begin the season but they manage to cling on to every shred of a lifeline, beginning with the tournament structure itself. With just five teams in a double round-robin format, a singular upset goes on to revive another team's chances. RCB found out they could still be in the knockouts contention if they manage to win their three remaining games while expecting the two dominant sides - Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals - to continue doing their thing.
Virat Kohli's pep talk had their belief rekindled in miracles - RCB men's team had lost six in a row in 2019 - and the Smriti Mandhana-led side opened their account with a clinical five-wicket win against UP Warriorz. Now that game acted as a lifeline for Giants, who went on to defend 147 against a strong Delhi Capitals side to revive their campaign, and push RCB back to the bottom of the points table.
As such, there's still a lot of tussle for the third spot, with all three bottom teams still mathematically in contention. For RCB even two straight wins from hereon might not suffice but that's their only hope of even having any outside chance. They're on a collision course with Giants in Saturday's double header at the Brabourne, who need two wins as well but might find themselves dependent on others should they lose any.
It will still come down to NRR but two defeats for UP Warriorz, who currently occupy the third spot, is what would make life easy for both these sides which is why both of them will have their eyes on the game prior to theirs, hoping Mumbai stretch their unbeaten run to six.
In their first meeting of the competition, at the same venue, Giants opened their account with a narrow 11-run victory after Sophia Dunkley's tournament record fastest 18-ball fifty propelled them to 201 - RCB conceding a 200-plus score for the second successive game fielding first. Now, having defended a low score here as well, Giants would be confident of nipping RCB's late threat in the bud.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
After trying a lot of permutations and combinations in their bowling department, RCB finally found a combination that led them to their first points. The option of an experienced four-over bowler in Sophie Devine has finally dawned upon them but Renuka Thakur's numbers will continue to worry the management. RCB could look at the option of bringing in an extra spinner for the conditions in place of the struggling Indian star. With the monkey off their back finally, the team would also be hoping for their captain's comeback with the bat now.
Probable XI: Smriti Mandhana (C), Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Richa Ghosh (wk), Shreyanka Patil, Kanika Ahuja, Disha Kasat, Megan Schutt, Asha Shobana, Renuka Thakur/Preeti Bose
Like RCB, Giants too have found a winning combination that covers most bases after a lot of chopping and changing, and would likely stick with the same team as one day ago. Even though they continue to struggle for opening partnership, they'd have hopes of their latest pair clicking together soon, given that both have been among runs. Ash Gardner's return to form would also ease their worries a bit.
Probable XI: Sophia Dunkley, Laura Wolvaardt, Harleen Deol, Ashleigh Gardner, Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana (C), Sushma Verma (wk), Kim Garth, Tanuja Kanwar, Mansi Joshi, Ashwani Kumari
The pitch at the Brabourne Stadium is slow in nature. The batters will have to spend some time in the middle before they can start playing their strokes freely. The spinners will get plenty of assistance at this venue as the ball tends to hold a bit on the surface.
The temperature in Mumbai is expected to hover between 25 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Kanika Ahuja showed her 360-degree game in the previous outing, helping turn a potentially challenging chase against Warriorz into a canter. She made 46 off 30 balls, exhibiting the virtues of being fearless. What more can she do?
Adjusting to Indian conditions, especially Mumbai's sapping humidity, can take a toll at the best of times, but three games in, Laura Wolvaardt has had time to soak it all in. Now for the opportunity to deliver that one blockbuster performance at the fag end of what has been a challenging season.
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