Mumbai, March 18 (IANS) Sophie Devine put up a brilliant display of power-hitting as she missed scoring the fastest century in women's T20 cricket, hitting 99 off 36 balls as Royal Challengers Bangalore thrashed Gujarat Giants by eight wickets with 27 balls to spare in Match 16 in the Women's Premier League (WPL) 2023 here on Saturday.
Devine produced one of the best innings in T20 cricket in the maiden edition of WPL as Royal Challengers Bangalore blazed to 189/2 in 15.3 overs, after restricting Gujarat Giants to 188/4 in 20 overs.
The win maintained RCB's chances of making it to the playoffs as they moved to the fourth spot, ahead of the Giants who too have four points but have an inferior Net Run Rate. With UP Warriorz ending Mumbai Indians' unbeaten run, RCB's win sealed Delhi Capital's place in the playoffs, joining MI in the knockout stage.
Devine, who blasted some of the biggest sixes at Brabourne stadium, and became the top scorer in WPL with 266 runs to take the Orange Cap, muscled her way to her half-century off just 20 balls, hitting six boundaries and four maximums as she gave RCB a big start along with skipper Smriti Mandhana (37 off 31), who seems to get going for the first time in the tournament.
But Devine overshadowed her and overpowered Gujarat Giants, who had put up a big total of 188/4 in their 20 overs thanks to a superb fifty by Laura Wolvaardt (68 of 42) who shared two half-century partnerships with S Meghana (31 off 32) and Ashleigh Gardner (41 off 26).
However, in the end, the chase of 189 proved too little considering the way Devine went about dismantling the Gujarat Giants' bowling.
Devine and Mandhana, who raised 125 runs for the first wicket, struck 13 runs off the did not indicate that was a good start, it gave no indication of what was to come in the next over. Devine struck her first boundary, a six off Gardner, blasting a slog sweep off one knee and followed it up with a four off the next two balls before bringing out the slog sweep again for another six. A four off the final ball of the second over meant, 24 runs came off that Gardner over, leaving the Gujarat Giants team shell-shocked.
Devine repeated the act in the ninth over, blasting 25 runs off Tanuja Kanwar as she raced to her half-century. She survived a couple of chances and got the benefit of the DRS too as she functioned in top gear. She was unlucky to miss her century but left RCB well on course to victory.
Ellyse Perry (19 not out) and Heather Knight (22 not out) propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to an eight-wicket win and kept them in the race for a place in the playoffs.
Earlier, Gujarat Giants lost Sophia Dunkley (16) early with the score reading 27 when she shuffled away to attempt to hit a second successive boundary off Sophie Devine but completely missed the length ball to see her leg stump brought down. She struck 16 off 10 balls, hitting three fours.
Sabbhineni Meghana and Laura Wolvaardt then raised 63 runs for the second-wicket partnership for Gujarat, who made a modest 45/1 in the Power-play. Meghana struck four boundaries in her 32-ball 31 as Gujarat built themselves for a defendable total in this crucial match. Meghana started slowly but struck her first boundary off Preeti Bose in the 8th over, driving inside out through covers and then slogged Heather Knight flat along the ground through wide mid-wicket for another boundary in the 10th over, as they raced to 50 off 43 balls.
Meghana got a life when Devine spilt a sitter off Preeti Bose in the 11th over and Meghana rubbed salt into the wounds by hitting a four d ball later. However, Preeti Bose had the last laugh as she enticed her out with one that spun away and keeper Ghosh effected a simple stumping.
Wolvaardt, who had struck a four off the second ball she faced off Meghan Schutt, continued to reap the rewards for her patience as she struck Schutt for two more fours and meting out the same treatment to Devine. She raced to her half-century off 35 balls, reaching the milestone with a six over wide mid-wicket off Perry.
She survived a chance when bowler Asha reacted a bit slowly only to see it spill off her left fingertip and celebrated that by hitting Asha for a boundary off the next delivery. Her best was a six and a four off Schutt on successive deliveries in the 16th over as she and Ashleigh Gardner added 50 runs for the third wicket in 30 balls.
But just when it looked like they will take Gujarat Giants to a big score, Wolvaardt got out, caught by Preeti Bose off Shreyanka Patil, smashing a full toss straight to short midwicket.
Gardner too fell to Shreyanka Patil, who was brought in rather late but claimed two wickets for 17 runs off two overs -- the 17th and 19th overs of the innings. Gardner struck a brilliant 26-ball 41, hitting six boundaries and a six.
Despite losing the two set batters, Dayalan Hemalatha (16 not out off 6) and Harleen Deol (12 off 5) blasted 22 runs off the final over, as Gujarat reached a big score.
Gujarat Giants 188/4 in 20 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 68, Ashleigh Gardner 41, Sabbhineni Meghana 31; Shreyanka Patil2-17, Sophie Devine 1-23) lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore 189/2 in 15.3 overs (Sophie Devine 99, Smriti Mandhana 37; Sneh Rana 1-25) by 8 wickets.
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