Ever since 2018, the year the Women’s T20 Challenge was introduced by the BCCI, a total of only nine matches have been played as part of the tournament. But the quality of cricket on display has been top-notch and fans have been treated to some brilliant individual performances.
Based on these performances one can safely say that the Women’s T20 Challenge is going to be bigger and better in the coming days.
The first edition of the tournament saw the Supernovas defeat the Trailblazers in a thrilling one-off encounter played at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Supernovas retained the title for the next edition, which featured a third team, Velocity.
In 2020, the rebranded Jio Women’s T20 Challenge was staged in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, along with IPL 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation in India. The Trailblazers took sweet revenge by defeating Supernovas, who beat them in the title clash in the previous two editions.
COVID-19's impact on the Women’s T20 Challenge
The IPL 2021 had to be postponed midway due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the teams' bio-bubbles.
The BCCI has already announced that the remaining matches of the 14th edition of the IPL will be played in the UAE from 19th September to 24th October. However, no official statement has been made regarding the Women's T20 Challenge.
The Indian women's team are scheduled to tour Australia in September-October. As things stand, the possibility of the Women's T20 Challenge being held this year is very low.
It was held during the play-offs of IPL 2020 in the UAE last year. Before any decision is made in this regard, let's rewind and revisit the top five individual performances in the brief history of the Women’s T20 Challenge:
#5 All-round show by Suzie Bates in the inaugural edition
The first-ever Women’s T20 Challenge saw Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas win against Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers in a last-ball thriller. But the standout performer of the only match played in the inaugural year of the tournament was New Zealand all-rounder Suzie Bates, who unfortunately ended up on the losing side.
After being asked to bat, the Trailblazers posted a total of 129/6. Bates made an invaluable contribution of 32 runs off just 37 deliveries.
Bates walked into the crease in the third over after the Trailblazers lost one of their openers, Smriti Mandhana, to Alyssa Healy. With wickets regularly falling at the other end, Bates stitched together crucial partnerships with Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues to help the team post a respectable total.
With the ball in hand, Bates picked up the wickets of Harmanpreet Kaur and Sophie Divine. The equation at one stage came down to four runs needed off the last over.
Bates, who was asked to bowl the final over, gave away just a single in the first three deliveries. But Pooja Vastrakar held her nerve and took the Supernovas home.
Although Bates did not finish on the winning side at the end of a closely fought encounter, her all-around show set the perfect tone for the “ Women’s IPL” in its first edition.
#4 Jemimah Rodrigues' magical knock against Velocity
Jemimah Rodrigues produced a magical knock of 77* against Velocity to help her team Supernovas book their place in the final of the second edition of the Women's T20 Challenge. It was a do-or-die match for the Supernovas, and Rodrigues rose to the occasion in style.After being asked to bat first, the Supernovas posted a total of 142/3. Rodrigues, who was involved in two fruitful partnerships, came in to bat when the total was 29/1 and remained unbeaten.
Her partnership with Chamari Atapattu was worth 55 runs. She then added 50 runs for the third wicket with Sophie Devine. The hallmark of Rodrigues' knock was that she kept hitting big shots throughout the innings.
She played an exquisitely timed shot through the cover for a boundary on the very first delivery that she faced. She combined power with solid technique to rattle the opposition's bowling lineup.
The Supernovas won by a margin of 12 runs and Rodrigues' knock undoubtedly made a huge difference in the outcome of the match.
#3 Chamari Atapattu's blitzkrieg in a must-win encounter
Swashbuckling Supernovas opener Chamari Atapattu hit 67 runs off just 48 balls in a must-win Jio Women's T20 Challenge encounter to help her team post a mammoth 146/6 on the board.
The exciting contest went right down to the last over, with the Trailblazers ultimately falling short by just two runs while chasing the highest total in the history of the tournament so far.
Atapattu approached her innings with a positive frame of mind and reached her half-century in mere 37 balls. She displayed a wide range of shots, including one slog-sweep to Rajeshwari Gayakwad for a maximum.
She was particularly brutal against Deepti Sharma as she accumulated 21 runs from nine balls off the off-spinner. Along with fellow opener Priya Punia, she put up a flamboyant partnership of 89 runs.
The Lankan lady laid the perfect platform for the middle-order batters to score freely. Although the Trailblazers came tantalizingly close to winning the match, the Supernovas got over the line and a lot of the credit must go to Attapatu.
#2 Sophie Ecclestone's stunning bowling display
Sophie Ecclestone stunned everyone by picking up four wickets for just nine runs in 3.1 overs against Velocity in the second league encounter of the Jio Women's T20 Challenge 2020.
The performance by the English left-arm spinner saw the Trailblazers bundle out Velocity for just 47 runs in 15.1 overs. It is unsurprisingly the best figure by any bowler in the history of the tournament so far.
Ecclestone, who shared the new ball with Jhulan Goswami, was hit for a huge six in her first over by Shefali Verma. However, she got rid of Velocity skipper Mithali Raj on the second delivery of her next over.
The tweaker then went through Veda Krishnamurthy's defense on the very next delivery with an arm-ball before clean bowling Sushma Verma Devi with a similar ball.
By the time Ecclestone, the top-ranked bowler in the ICC T20I rankings for women, started her final over, Velocity were reeling at 47/9. She completed her four-wicket haul by dismissing Jahanara Alam.
#1 Smriti Mandhana's innings that guided Trailblazers to maiden title
Having conceded the title to Supernovas in the previous two editions, the Trailblazers were determined to set the record straight in the Jio Women’s T20 Challenge 2020 in the UAE. Skipper Smriti Mandhana took it upon herself to lay the foundation for a win in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair.
Before stepping out to bat, Mandhana had managed to score only 39 runs in the two league matches.
But the ace Indian batter made the most out of the powerplay overs and got involved in a 45-run partnership with fellow opener Deandra Duffin.
Despite Mandhana smashing 68 runs off 49 deliveries, the Trailblazers managed only 118/8 in their stipulated 20 overs. Following Mandhana's dismissal in the 15th over, the Trailblazers suffered a batting collapse. However, they ultimately had the last laugh as the Supernovas could only manage 102/7 in reply.