Mumbai Indians (MI) beat Delhi Capitals (DC) by seven wickets in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 final at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday, March 26. Bowling first after losing the toss, Mumbai did an excellent job restricting a strong Delhi batting lineup to 131 for 9. Meg Lanning top-scored for DC with 35, but no other batter from the team could reach 30. Issy Wong and Hayley Matthews claimed three wickets for Mumbai each, while Amelia Kerr chipped in with two. Nat Sciver-Brunt (60 not out) then guided the chase for Mumbai, with some help from skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (37). In the wake of MI winning the maiden WPL trophy, we look at five reasons behind their triumph.
#1 They won the big moments
It would be fair to say that Mumbai and Delhi were the two best sides in WPL 2023 and hence deserved to reach the final. However, only one team could win on the big day, and Mumbai took the honors. They did so because they won the big moments. After losing the toss, Delhi had the upper hand as they could put a big score on the board and have Mumbai under pressure in the chase. But MI did not allow that to happen. They got the big wickets of Shafali Verma, Alice Capsey, and Jemimah Rodrigues cheaply. With the three scalps inside the powerplay, they put Delhi on the back foot, where the batting side could not recover.
Even in the league stage, Mumbai won the crunch moments and did not crumble under pressure. Gujarat Giants (GG) put them to the test when they lost eight wickets but fought back to win that contest. After securing five consecutive wins in a row, MI lost their next two. When questions were asked about whether they peaked too early, Mumbai registered a crucial win over RCB. They then brought their A game in the Eliminator against UP Warriorz (UPW) and were clinical in the final against DC.
#2 Extremely strong batting line-up
Delhi Capitals skipper Lanning may have walked away with the Orange Cap, but as a combined batting outfit, Mumbai fared better. Three of their batters finished among the top 10 run-getters, while Yastika Bhatia was 11th. Nat Sciver-Brunt was the second-leading run-getter with 332 runs from 10 matches at an average of 66.40 and a strike rate of 140.08. Skipper Harmanpreet contributed 281 runs at an average of 40.14 and a strike rate of 135.10. Matthews scored 271 runs, averaging 30.11 at a strike rate of 126.05. Bhatia chipped in with 214 at a strike rate of 112.04. There were other contributions as well that do not figure out in the list. Amelia Kerr consistently came up with cameos quickly, including one in the final. Issy Wong and Pooja Vastrakar also made handy contributions with the bat.
#3 Plenty of match-winning bowlers
Not just batters, Mumbai had the upper hand over most teams right through the tournament thanks to their fantastic bowling attack, which was always at the opposition. Off-spinner Matthews was the joint-leading wicket-taker with 16 scalps from 10 matches at a fantastic average of 12.62. Pacer Wong was also outstanding. She picked up 15 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 14, which included a hat-trick in the Eliminator, which completely sunk UPW. Wong also claimed three wickets in the final. Besides her batting contributions, Kerr also picked up 15 wickets at an average of 14.07. Left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque was undoubtedly the breakout star among uncapped Indian players. She gave several terrific performances to finish WPL 2023 with 15 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 16.27.
Mumbai’s bowling was relentless right through the WPL. They bundled out Gujarat Giants for 64 in their opening match, setting the tone for their campaign. Even in the two matches they lost, the batting let the side down, as the bowlers also impressed in those games. Mumbai were exceptional with the ball in the Eliminator and final as well, bowling out UP for 110 and holding DC to 131/9.
#4 The Nat Sciver-Brunt factor
While we spoke about Sciver-Brunt earlier, she deserves a standalone discussion on her performance. In many ways, the seasoned England all-rounder was the main point of difference for the team, which went a long way in helping them clinch their maiden WPL title. While her numbers in the tournament were extremely solid, without a doubt, she performed for the team when the chips were down.
Her first half-century against RCB, 55 not out off 29 balls, when they were chasing a challenging total of 156. In the Eliminator against UPW, Sciver-Brunt single-handedly lifted Mumbai to a match-winning total. Batting first, they struggled at 69/2 at the start of the 10th over. However, Sciver-Brunt made UP pay for dropping her on 6, clobbering nine fours and two sixes in her unbeaten 72 off 38 balls. The right-handed batter guided the team home in the final as well. The chase became tense as Delhi got into tight overs after claiming two wickets. However, Sciver-Brunt always kept Mumbai in the game with crucial boundaries and was at the end finish proceedings.
#5 The X factors
If we look back at MI’s WPL 2023 campaign, they had an X-factor going for them. It was not just one particular player but multiple ones. Take the case of Wong. She was the only bowler to take a hat-trick and got three wickets with full tosses in the final. Wong also struck some meaty blows with the bat. Matthews did not always look threatening with the ball, but she found ways to keep taking wickets. Ishaque and Kerr, too, had that halo around them that they could produce magic. MI’s fielding was the icing on the cake, with Harmanpreet winning the award for the catch of the season.