For the creme da la creme of Australian talent in the Gujarat Giants stable (Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, and Phoebe Litchfield), pouting at the bottom of the table for the second season in a row might not be a particularly familiar situation. Being the ‘easy’ team to beat must also be a kick in the shin, but that’s where the Gujarat Giants finds itself, again, as it takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore in its first fixture of the New Delhi leg of the Women’s Premier League.

Starting trouble

The Giants are yet to open their account in the second edition of the tournament and will hope their first reverse fixture come bearing two points. A high-flying Royal Challengers Bangalore, which comes into this match after ending its home leg on a victorious note with a 23-run triumph over UP Warriorz, will seek to do everything in its power to deny the Giants joy.

Giants rely heavily on their overseas contingent, whose lack of form has left the side exposed. Litchfield’s winter purple patch in India that saw her frustrate the women in blue to no end, has been conspicuously missing. Laura Woolvardt and Mooney herself take time to get going, squandering precious time in the PowerPlay. Ashleigh Gardner, much like last season, has had to saddle a large part of match-stabilising duties on her shoulders.

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The Indian part of the Giants pie chart has been slow to step up to the task. Veda Krishnamurthy has had a forgettable outing opening the batting.

Harleen Deol and Dayalan Hemalatha have not managed to pair their promising starts with consistency. Tanuja Kanwer has been a ray of sunshine peeping through a bleak sky for the Giants with ball and occasionally with the bat, but it is often too little too late to help the team dig itself out of sticky situations. Giants have given domestic talents like Tarannum Pathan a go, and Meghna Singh has emerged as a positive for the side.

After much criticism about her oft one-dimensional pace, her four-wicket haul against Delhi Capitals, albeit in a losing cause, would have given her and the Giants think tank backing her a shot in the arm. However, the unit has not been able to cohesively derail an opponent yet in the league, for most parts of both seasons past.

Peaking at the right time?

In the five games Royal Challengers played at home, it emerged victorious thrice while it suffered two losses against Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals in consecutive games. Smriti Mandhana and Co. left home comforts with a win in the bag against the Warriorz and will hope to make the most of a battered Giants side.

RCB has much to cheer about, with Smriti finding consistency with the bat, finding herself in contention for the orange cap with 219 runs in five matches. Sophie Devine, who has had a quiet tournament per her high standards, is yet to have a breakout game with the bat but was promising against the UP Warriorz with her spell of 2/37. Ellyse Perry left the sponsor vehicle a glass window short and will hope to do the same to Giants’ hopes of a campaign resurrection this season. A win will help them keep Warriorz at bay in the race to finish in the top three.


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