Kanika Ahuja and Richa Ghosh help RCB navigate a tricky chase to record their first win of WPL

Royal Challengers Bangalore were winless after five matches in the inaugural Women’s Premier League, with their big guns not turning up to make the vital difference. The stars didn’t come to the party again, at least with the bat, but youngsters Kanika Ahuja and Richa Ghosh took RCB over the line against UP Warriorz at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

The RCB bowlers had dismissed UPW for 135 but when they were themselves reduced to 60/4 in the first half of the chase, there was doubt whether they could open their account. But the 60-run stand between Kanika and Richa scripted a five-wicket win with two overs to spare that gave RCB a chance to make the playoffs.

Virat Kohli, the poster boy of the RCB men’s team, met the girls before the game and it seemed to have a positive impact on their body language and attitude in the middle. Marquee players Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt stepped up with the ball. Devine and Schutt reduced UPW to 5/3 before leg-spinner Sobhana Asha made further inroads. And when Grace Harris and Deepti Sharma threatened to put up a competitive total with a 69-run partnership in seven overs for the fifth wicket, it was Perry who got both set batters in the same over to set UPW on their heels again.

But all their efforts would have counted for nothing if Kanika (46 in 30 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) and Richa (31 not out in 32 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) didn’t step up. Skipper Smriti Mandhana extended her poor run, getting out for a duck, while Devine, Perry and Heather Knight only played cameos. It left the two young guns to do the heavy lifting, and they obliged.

Brief scores: UP Warriorz 135 in 19.3 overs (Grace Harris 46; Perry 3/16) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 136/5 in 18 overs (Kanika Ahuja 46, Richa Ghosh 31 not out) by five wickets

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