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WPL 2024: UP Warriorz’ Deepti Sharma shines with an all-round performance for ages

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WPL 2024: UP Warriorz’ Deepti Sharma shines with an all-round performance for ages

New Delhi, March 9 (Ajit Weekly News) Upon receiving the Player of the Match award during the post-match presentation ceremony, UP Warriorz’ spinner Deepti Sharma was informed about her hat-trick, a feat of which she had no prior inkling. “I didn’t know about it,” was Deepti’s simple reply to being informed about the hat-trick.

Deepti’s hat-trick during Friday’s match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium went unnoticed until she had dismantled Delhi Capitals’ dreams of a win. The tension was palpable as Delhi chased down a target of 15 runs off 12 balls. However, Deepti’s off spin disrupted their plans, completely altering the dynamics of the match. On the first two balls of the 19th over, Deepti castled Annabel Sutherland, who shaped for a swipe across the line and had Arundhati Reddy holing out to wide long-on. The stadium’s giant screens flashed an alert for a hat-trick ball, but Shikha Pandey quickly diffused its chances by hitting a powerful four over Deepti’s head.

The entire stadium and the viewers watching the broadcast all believed that the hat-trick was avoided. On the very next ball after being hit for four, Deepti had the last laugh as Shikha chipped a catch straight back to the bowler. But after that, people realised Deepti had indeed taken a hat-trick.

Before taking out Annabel and Arundhati, Deepti had trapped Delhi skipper Meg Lanning for a 46-ball 60 on the last ball of the 14th over, making her the first Indian bowler and second overall to pick a WPL hat-trick while changing the complexion of the game in favour of the Warriorz’. “The idea was to how should fewer runs be conceded to a set batter and bowl more of dot balls to them. I really like challenges while bowling and I was backing to bowl stump-to-stump line, which really helped.”

“Shikha di plays more on the front foot and I felt a ball can come to me any time. I keep myself always ready for caught and bowled dismissals. We always had it in the mind that we can change the game from anywhere and that we can tilt any situation our way,” said Deepti after the game ended in a come-from-behind one-run win for Warriorz.

Before being a major influencer with the ball to give Warriorz’ its first WPL win over Delhi, Deepti had played a role with another side of her all-round skills: batting. In the absence of Chamari Athapaththu, Deepti was promoted to bat at number three on a slow pitch, following her outstanding innings of 53 runs off 36 balls against Mumbai Indians on Thursday night.

In a make-or-break game for the Warriorz on Friday, Deepti was the key player who kept the batting innings going when everyone else was falling apart. Her 59 runs came off 48 balls, and though her first boundary came off an edge, her authoritative smash over mid-on signalled the intentions of Deepti eager to leave a mark with the bat.

Even as she ran out of partners from the other end, Deepti continued to get boundaries by swatting, pulling, sweeping and scooping. She got her fifty in 45 balls with a brace to long-on and pulled Shikha Pandey over fine leg for six, before holing out to long-on in the final over.

Deepti’s batting has faced continuous scrutiny, as her knocks in T20s were subject to criticism and even raised questions about her deserving a spot in the playing eleven.

However, Deepti’s consecutive fifties in the last two games have highlighted her impressive batting performance, especially when other batters from the Warriorz’ team have struggled. “I am just backing my shots and strengths. I kept the belief in myself about the shots which can be used in a particular situation.”

“The main thing about my batting was to play as per my reading of a given situation. I just want to keep continuing what I am doing so far. There’s no limit to learning and the more I can learn, the better it is for me,” said Deepti.

In WPL 2023, Deepti had a low strike rate of 83.33, while amassing 90 runs from nine innings, including 11 fours. In seven matches of WPL 2024 so far, Deepti’s strike rate has risen to a high 132.69, while making 207 runs in seven innings, including 25 fours and four sixes. Deepti’s efforts to get better with the bat caught the eye of all-rounder Grace Harris, who took two wickets in a final over yielding three scalps.

“Deepti has had a really good tournament, especially with the bat. She’s trying to step up the strike rate. She’s got the shots, but it’s about trying to encourage her to pull them out at what time. I have really enjoyed seeing her on the field and how she’s going about her game, which has improved much more than what it was last year, with the bat in particular. Bowling-wise, she’s always been very consistent.”

“Deepti can easily work pace bowling at the back end while still developing that higher strike rate. When you’re lower down the order, you’re able to bat (more freely) instead of holding back your wicket as a batter would higher up. Sometimes, just to get you to get through that initial learning period for upping your strike rate.”

“It’s actually healthier and easier to be listed lower down the order because you have fewer balls to face and so, you have to go. When you come higher up the order, you feel like you kind of have to cement the innings and then go. (This year) Deepti has been fantastic at going and staying going. So, it was a perfect time for her to be promoted in the batting order,” she said in the post-match press conference.

Deepti’s knock of 59 also got some appreciation from Delhi head coach Jonathan Batty. “Deepti played fantastically well. She managed the risk in the innings very early, very similar to how Meg played as well. It was the sort of a proper batter’s innings.”

“We executed our plans very well to her and she nullified them to play really well. So, no reflections on the things we could have done differently. She just well played and that happens.”

Deepti’s eagerness to enhance her skills as an all-rounder in T20s, especially with her batting, fills the air with an expectation of her becoming a consistent performer in the shortest format.

One would hope Deepti continues to dazzle by delivering outstanding performances for both Warriorz and later, for the Indian team, just like her unforgettable showing in Delhi on March 8, 2024.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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