Updated: Oct 24, 2019
What is common between the two most thrilling world contests - 2016 World T20 final and 2019 ODI World Cup Final?? Or forget the world stage for a while, just give your memory a jog and think of a cricket match which has gone down to the wire. Isn't it always spectator's delight? Blood rushes through the veins, pumped fist, will to run over the field and win the game for the team?
Something similar happened in one of the group stage games played between Saurashtra and Maharashtra women at Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, Rajkot in ongoing Senior Women's T20 league. Maharashtra claimed the game on the final ball of 20th over, but it was Saurashtra who took home a moral victory.
On a perfect Sunday afternoon, Saurashtra captain, Mridula Jadeja won the toss and being aware of the home conditions chose to bat. Jayshree Jadeja and Mridula started slowly and added 20 runs in first 5 overs without losing any wicket. While everything was going according to plan, experienced Anuja Patil put the brakes on Saurashtra's steady ship and sent Jayshree (16) and Pooja Nimavat (0) back into the hut in the same over.
Anuja Patil's twin strike dented Saurashtra's progress to an extent but, she tasted her own medicine when she was smashed for two consecutive boundaries by Mridula in her very next over. However, the fun didn't last long for Saurashtra's captain (15) as she was foxed by Aditi Gaikwad in the tenth over and left Saurashtra stranded at 41 for 3.
Whether Saurashtra taking a single, a boundary, catch or a wicket, there was a dedicated group of spectators of merely 20-25 people who never stopped beating the drum, blowing the vuvuzela and supporting the home team. The environment was just electric-like any international game.
Unlike other times, Saurashtra looked determined to take the game forward and finish with a decent score on the board. Crucial contributions from Riddhi Ruparel (23), Kirshna Anovadia (18) and Reena Dabhi (13) in the end took the total to 102 runs.
In response to the 103-run target, the star-studded Maharashtra side went on the back foot as it was Saurashtra who ruled the roost for first six overs. Two supple stumpings behind the wickets by Riddhi and a stunning catch by Jayu Jadeja (AKA Jayshree Jadeja) gave a serious heart attack to Maharasthra as the scorecard read 15 for 3 in six.
Having been in a good touch, Mukta Magre and ever-reliable Anuja Patil revived Maharashtra's innings. Both maintained the run flow and slowly built a solid 34 runs partnership in next seven overs before Anuja Patil holed out to Sarasvati Kanojiya in the fourteenth over.
Holding the Maharashtra innings from one end, Magre finally played a rash shot to Neha Chavda in the seventeenth over which Jayu snaffled comfortably. Another heart attack to Maharashtra towards the end of the innings. Now, 26 needed off 18 balls.
Five wickets down and into the death overs there are hardly many teams in the tournament who can pull off such heist that too when main bowlers of the opposition are operating.
Despite tight bowling in the next two overs, Saurashtra ended up giving freebies in terms of misfields.
Saurashtra held all the aces till the last over bowled but Priyanka Garkhede (11*) and Poonam Kemnar (5*) had their own plans. An unwanted misfield in the final over which ended up as boundary stretched the game to the final ball. One required of the final ball.
Saurashtra captain, who was never seen going to the bowler and fill the ears was found going back thrice to the bowler and explain her the scenario. Extra fielder from on side was sent to the offside. With 6-3 field, the final ball was bowled and Maharashtra took home the game with a cheeky single.
Anyone can deal with victory. Only the mighty can bear defeat. - Adolf Hitler
The distress, sorrow and pain could be felt among the Saurashtra girls of losing the game by such a narrow margin but there was something unique that happened that night which no one noticed. Saurashtra Women almost defeated one of the most successful sides of the domestic circuit. The team which has given stars like Smriti Mandhana, Devika Vaidya and Anuja Patil to the national team.
For Saurashtra, it'll always be a loss as no one likes to be defeated but, they have to deal with it very carefully because a good defeat always paves a way to success. Hope they take some great lessons from this defeat and come out better very next year.