WPL: The Pace With Which Asha Was Bowling, That's Where The Game Changed, Says Reema Malhotra

(MENAFN- IANS) Bengaluru, Feb 25 (IANS) Asha Shobana Joy's five-wicket haul helped Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) get off to a winning start at WPL 2024 and former India cricketer Reema Malhotra believes the pace with which the leg-spinner bowled to the UP Warriorz batters changed the course of the match.

In defence of 158 at a sold-out M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday night, Asha dismissed Vrinda Dinesh and Tahlia McGrath in the span of three deliveries in the ninth over. She then took out Shweta Sehrawat, Grace Harris and Kiran Navgire in the 17th over to end with figures of 5-22, registering the first five-wicket haul taken by an Indian bowler in the WPL.

Her performance helped RCB win over UP Warriorz by two runs in the second successive last-ball finish of the competition. Asha, the seasoned campaigner in the domestic circuit, was adjudged as the Player of the Match.

"It was intelligent bowling... Leg-spinners are match-winners in my opinion and the pace with which Asha was bowling, that's where the game changed. She's a very confident player and has always backed herself.

"You can see her confidence in her celebrations and attitude. When you have a wicket-taking attitude, you become a match-winner, that's what Asha has done," said Reema on 'Match Centre Live' show on JioCinema and Sports18.

Parthiv Patel, the former India men's wicketkeeper-batter, was left in awe of how Asha turned the game around. "The home crowd hasn't been left disappointed. They were defending a small total and the way the game was going, it looked like UP would easily win this game.”

"The way Sobhana Asha was bowling and the way RCB hung in the game, it is important that even in a game where you are falling behind, you keep the hope that a wicket or two will fall. In this format, you can change a game in an over which we saw happen today. Sobhana Asha took three wickets in one over and the game changed from there. It's not easy to defend a small score, especially in a small ground like this."

RCB captain Smriti Mandhana felt Asha's wealth of experience helped the team immensely when Grace and Shweta were threatening to take the game away in the 77-run partnership for the Warriorz.

"This is only her second season in WPL, but we can't forget that she is quite experienced. She has been in the domestic circuit for a very long time. I am happy that she is getting her due for her talent," said Mandhana.

On getting the Player of the Match award, Asha became emotional over her performance leading RCB to a memorable win. "A lot of struggle, a lot of hard work and finally, the victory is sweet. (Bowling with control) That is one of my strengths."

"Grace was going against the turn, and I knew if I pulled the length back and slowed it up, she might go across the line and get a top edge or get bowled. I was ready to get smashed, but I was sure I would get her (out)."

"I am not thinking about my five wickets. We just won our first game at home. Nothing's bigger than that. I am happy that I contributed to the victory of the team that too at Chinnaswamy ground. I knew that the situation would be something like this and I visualised, did my homework as well. I was ready," she said.

Richa Ghosh, who top-scored with 62, was also in praise of Asha's stunning show with the ball. "We were waiting for a wicket because we knew if it fell, the match would be in our hands again. Asha bowled so well, especially in that last over.”

“I worked a lot on it. There have been many times when I got out in haste but this time, I told myself that I need to take the game to the end. My coaches helped me a lot. If wickets fall early, my role is to take the game ahead and finish it.”

All-rounder Ellyse Perry was left in awe of the home support RCB got from the fans right from the toss to winning the match. "A really special night for the whole team, even just driving to the stadium from our hotel.”

“The streets were packed with fans and they were all waving and yelling at our bus, so that was special, and to come in and experience the atmosphere and the support that we did. When Smriti was doing the toss, she couldn't even hear the questions because people were so excited to have us playing here. Really special night and even better to win a close match."


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