Trailblazers vs Supernovas: Preview and Prediction￼
The Women’s T20 Challenge is all set to take centre stage as the fourth edition of the tournament will commence on Monday, May 23 with the defending champions Trailblazers taking on Supernovas in the inaugural game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune.
The tournament provides fans of the game with an opportunity to witness the immense talent and skill of the best female players in the country, along with international stars.
As far as the game is concerned, it’s a re-match of the final of the last edition where the Trailblazers defeated Harman’s Supernovas by 16 runs. In the league stage, however, it was the Supernovas who got the better of their rivals, and this time around, the Trailblazers will be looking to make amends.
What have they done so far?
Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers come into the tournament as defending champions having won two of their three games in the 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge. In the previous edition of the competition, the Trailblazers started the tournament on a winning note by crushing Velocity by nine wickets. In that game, Velocity was bundled out for 47 before the eventual champions chased down the target inside eight overs.
The Women in Pink, however, went down to Supernovas in their next game after losing that match by mere two runs. Chasing a target of 147, the Trailblazers finished the game managing to score 144, however, a superior net run rate amongst all the three teams helped them qualify for the finals topping the table. In the final, riding on Mandhana’s 68, Trailblazers became only the second team to win the competition.
Two times champions and last season’s runners-up the Supernovas have always been the team to beat in the competition. The Women in Blue however had a poor start to their campaign in 2020 when they went down against Velocity by five wickets. The Indian T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur-led side posted 126 inside 20 overs in that game, however, Sune Luus‘ unbeaten 37 was too good for the 2018 and 2019 champions as they went down by five wickets.
They however came strongly in the next game by winning against the Trailblazers by two runs. Courtesy of Chamari Atapattu’s 67, the two times champions posted 146 inside 20 overs. Defending 147, the duo of Radha Yadav and Shakera Selman scalped two wickets each to register a much-needed victory and qualify for the finals for the third time in a row.
In the final, however, they were completely outplayed by Smriti Mandhana as the Trailblazers registered an emphatic 16-run win and thus became the first team after Supernovas to win the championship.
Head to Head Record
This will be the fifth fixture played between the two sides in the competition with both the teams winning two games each. Whilst the Supernovas won the one-off encounter in May 2018, the Trailblazers won the only game played between both sides in May 2019. The 2020 season was the first time when the two teams played each other twice in the same year’s competition, with each team registering one win apiece.
Smriti Mandhana (Trailblazers): Smriti Mandhana was the highest run-scorer for Trailblazers in the Women’s T20 Challenge in 2020. She made 107 runs in 3 matches at an average of 35.66 and a strike rate of 109.18. In fact, the Trailblazers skipper is the second leading run-getter of the tournament having scored 207 runs across the three seasons of the competition.
Mandhana was also in red-hot form in the 2022 ICC Women’s ODI World Cup having been the tournament’s seventh leading run-scorer and India’s best with 327 runs. She averaged 47 in the competition and had a ton and two fifties to her name.
Sophie Ecclestone (Supernovas): Sophie Ecclestone was the highest wicket-taker for Trailblazers in the Women’s T20 Challenge in 2020 and she would be aiming to repeat the feat this time as well but for her new team the Supernovas. She picked up 5 wickets in 3 matches at an average of 11.00 and an economy of 4.92 in the previous season.
The 22-year-old left-arm orthodox bowler was also the go-to bowler for England in the 2022 ICC Women’s ODI World Cup. Such was her impact there that she ended the competition as the leading wicket-taker of the competition with 21 scalps to her name, at least seven more than the next best on the list (Shabnim Ismail). She will have an important role in not only picking up wickets but also containing runs if Supernovas are to win the competition.
Predicted Playing XI
Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (C), Jemimah Rodrigues, Sophia Dunkley, Hayley Matthews, Richa Ghosh (WK), S Meghana, Salma Khatun, Arundhati Reddy, Renuka Singh, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad
Supernovas: Priya Punia, Taniya Bhatia (WK), Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Deandra Dottin, Harleen Deol, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi, Sune Luus, Sophie Ecclestone, Alana King, Meghna Singh
Trailblazers look a well-balanced side on paper and will clearly head into this match as the favourites. With the performance of their spinners on the slow and low surface, they will be extremely hard to getaway in the middle overs.
The Supernovas will be relying on Priya Punia and Harmanpreet Kaur to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility in the batting department. It will be extremely important for one of the two openers to stick around and bat for the allotted quota of 20 overs. Thus, seeing all this, we back the defending champions to once again come on top over the two-time champions.