For the ninth time in nine games of WPL 2024 so far, the captain winning the toss has elected to field. On Saturday, the chasing team won for the seventh time.

Barring Delhi Capitals, who have won once and lost to a last-ball six, no other team has consistently put up a strong show batting first. Royal Challengers Bangalore did win their opening game against UP Warriorz, but that was off the last ball.

Saturday’s game between RCB and Mumbai Indians panned out in a very familiar way. By the end of the second innings’ powerplay, the fate of the contest had become obvious. Chasing a target of 132, Yastika Bhatia’s early onslaught powered the visitors to 60 for 1 by the end of six overs.

That RCB couldn’t stick to their bowling plans of attacking the stumps aided that free-flow of runs, admitted head coach Luke Williams. However, given that it wasn’t the first time that such a massive disparity has been noted between the powerplay performances of the setting and the chasing sides in this tournament, the question on whether toss was indeed having a significant impact in the context of the games was posed to the RCB coach.

Williams though didn’t want to peel the layers of the loss. The understanding was much more upfront for him: Mumbai Indians had batted better and bowled better. “It’s been different days where it has got slightly better to bat in the second innings,” Williams noted. “But the difference in results doesn’t quite reflect the wicket.

“At different times it has certainly been advantageous to be able to bowl first, but throughout the tournament, the team that has batted second has been able to execute better and been the better side on that particular day. It has been a combination of different times. Certainly tonight, we were comprehensively outplayed.”

Despite being struck by the absence of their lead pacer Shabnim Ismail, Mumbai Indians grabbed hold of the contest within the powerplay after electing to field, pushing the home side down to 34 for 3. Unlike some of the other games so far this season, there wasn’t as much movement on offer and the damage was primarily a result of false strokeplay coupled with disciplined bowling. The wickets were orchestrated by some fine field sets, tight bowling and execution error in the shots.

RCB have hedged their bets on a combination where there is significant reliance with the bat on their bowling all-rounders, with Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham occupying position nos. 6 and 7 in the line-up. While the duo has batted at such positions and higher for their state team and in WBBL with a fair amount of success, it leaves them with much to compensate for in situations such as the one that panned out against Mumbai Indians. Moreover, they haven’t fared too well so far with the bat in this tournament.

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