Mooney's Aussies humbled in Gujarat loss in WPL launch
Beth Mooney, fresh from her World Cup-winning heroics, has been brought rudely down to earth, suffering injury during a calamitous 143-run defeat for her Gujarat Giants side in the opening match of India's new Women's Premier League.
The Australian opener, in her first major captaincy role, reckoned she had been looking forward to the challenge of launching the lucrative new, potentially game-changing league in Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.
But it all went wrong for the batting champion, player of the match in last Sunday's T20 World Cup final, and her expensively-assembled team, as Mooney asked Mumbai Indians to bat and watched them rattle up a huge total of 5-207.
Leading the massive chase, the champion left-hander then faced just four balls before she had to retire hurt without scoring, having seemingly injured her left knee as she turned while running.
It proved only the start of a disastrous innings for the Giants as they capitulated for 64 off just 15.1 overs.
There's now a big question mark over whether Mooney will be fit to play in Sunday's second match against a UP Warriorz team captained by her Australian opening partner Alyssa Healy.
The Giants have invested heavily in Australian power, taking on Rachael Haynes as the coach, Mooney snapped up for $350,000 as captain and star batter and allrounder Ash Gardner as the joint-most expensive overseas recruit for $558,000.
Georgia Wareham, who like Mooney and Gardner had played in Australia's winning team in last weekend's T20 World Cup final win over South Africa in Cape Town, and Annabel Sutherland made up the Giants' powerful Aussie quartet.
But the three bowlers all got carted around, conceding 100 runs off 10 overs between them, with Gardner taking 1-38 off four, Wareham 1-30 off three and Sutherland 0-32 off three.
Big-hitting Gardner, hopefully not weighed down by her huge price tag, also failed with the bat, caught at slip for a golden duck.
But, fittingly, after all the Bollywood glitz that preceded the launch of the women's game's richest league, it was home hero, Mumbai captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who did most to get the tournament off to a rip-roaring start in front of an enthusiastic crowd, cracking 65 off 30 balls.
"It was a brilliant start, it feels like a dream come true," said Harmanpreet, who has predicted the league will be a "game-changer" for women's cricket.
"We kept things simple and clear. Told players to play natural. Obviously it's a big day for women's cricket - but it was all about backing yourself."