Velocity suffered a 16-run defeat in the Women’s T20 Challenge but still qualified for the final on the basis of a better net run rate, knocking out victors Trailblazers from the tournament in Pune on Thursday. Velocity will face Supernovas in the summit clash on Saturday.

Invited to bat, Sabbhineni Meghana and Jemimah Rodrigues smashed scintillating fifties to help the defending champions post a massive 190 for five, the highest total in the tournament’s history. But they needed to restrict Velocity to 159 to become the second team to qualify for the final, but it was not to be as Kiran Navgire had other ideas.

The 27-year-old all-rounder from Maharashtra lit up the night sky with five fours and as many sixes on the way to her 34-ball 69 to take Velocity across the 150-mark and on the doorstep of the final.

The Trailblazers bowlers, led by Poonam Yadav (2/33) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/44), eventually restricted Velocity to 174 for nine to also open their account, but they would rue their heavy 49-run defeat to Supernovas in the opening match.

Trailblazers (-0.825), Supernovas (+0.912) and Velocity (-0.022) ended with two points each, but the top two teams made it to the final as they had better net run-rate than the defending champions. Velocity crossed the 159-run mark in the 19th over to make it through to the final. Set a stiff target of 191 to win, Navgire, playing her first season in the big league, showed steely temperament as she anchored the chase beautifully, adding 55 off 31 balls with Laura Wolvaardt (17) and then held on to the other end.

Navgire and Wolvaardt’s partnership helped Velocity pile up the fastest team hundred of the tournament.

Velocity kept losing wickets under scoreboard pressure, but Navgire steered them to safety before being stumped by Richa Ghosh off Shopie Dunkley in the 17th over. Once Navgire departed, it was all over for Velocity.

The Women’s IPL, or the Women’s T20 Challenge, is a tournament organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and has been held every year since 2018 except for 2021 when it was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.

Started in parallel with the IPL in 2018, the Women’s T20 Challenge is expected to evolve and expand into a bigger league with more players and teams, at least six, competing for the trophy.

As it stands, the Women’s IPL is being contested by three teams – Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity, but in the inaugural edition in 2018, a single match was held in Mumbai between Supernovas and Trailblazers prior to men’s IPL Qualifier 1 match.

Since the 2019 edition, the Women’s T20 Challenge grew to a three-team tournament, featuring four games instead of a one-off game, with the addition of a new team named Velocity competing along with the Trailblazers and Supernovas.