Sophie Devine has fallen one run shy of equalling her own record for the fastest women’s T20 hundred after an extraordinary batting onslaught in the WPL on Sunday (NZ time).
The White Ferns captain smashed 99 off just 36 balls in a sizzling display of power hitting for Royal Challengers Bangalore in their much-needed win over the Gujarat Giants in Mumbai.
Devine whacked nine fours and eight sixes in leading her side to their target of 189 with five wickets and 4.3 overs to spare, but came up agonisingly short of becoming the first WPL century-maker and matching her 36-ball ton made for Wellington in 2021.
Rather than look for a single to bring up the milestone, the pugnacious right-hander was instead in the mood for more, and unselfishly tried to launch a full Kim Garth ball over mid-off, only for Ashwani Kumari to take a great leaping catch to spoil the show, with the crowd in full voice chanting her name.
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“There are few people who can do what she did tonight, but she’s been doing it consistently for years and what she did tonight was special,” Australian Ellyse Perry said of her team-mate afterwards.
“That last shot where she got out typifies Sophie. It’s not about runs for her but playing for the team.
“To be going for a big shot on 99 when cover was open for a single, it speaks volumes to her character as a person.”
Earlier, Devine had claimed her side’s first wicket, and took 1-23 off three overs, as the Giants posted a healthy 188-4.
But it proved hardly a challenge for RCB, who jumped off the bottom of the table and ahead of the Giants in the five-team competition, thanks to Devine’s heroics.
On one off four facing the second ball of the second over, Devine flicked a switch in slog-sweeping Australian off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner for six, and then followed it up with two cover drives for four, another slog-sweep for six and an off-drive to the fence for a mighty 24-run haul.
And there was no let-up, the 33-year-old dancing down to whack leg-spinner Harleen Deol for six to bring up her half century off 20 balls.
She then let rip next over against left-arm spinner Tanuja Kanwar, smoking the biggest six of the tournament (94 metres), over mid-wicket, followed next ball by a four through long-off, then a flat straight six and another maximum over mid-wicket in a 25-run over.
“Sometimes the best thing for me is I don’t have game plan,” Devine said in attempting to analyse her stunning knock later.
“When you’re chasing 180-190, you have to go hard. When I got a couple away, I thought it was time, it was a combination of freedom and determination to stay in since I’ve thrown my wicket away a couple of times.
“Cricket can be so fickle. I’ve been struggling for six to nine months, if I have to be completely honest. To have some freedom on these wickets was good. It’s also been good to trust myself and free my hands up. Our batting coach RX Murali challenged me to bat a long time, so it was nice to score some runs tonight.”