With each team having played four matches each, the WBBL leader board finally started to take corporeal form. After the first round saw each team split for wins and losses, a few finally began to pull ahead.
The format of the tournament sees each team play each other twice, at the same venue on consecutive days. It means that the WBBL comprises of 59 matches, whereas the men’s tournament, the BBL features only 35 games.
Meg Lanning’s Melbourne Stars notched up two valuable victories against the star studded Sydney Sixers in Melbourne, with in form Sixers all rounder Ellyse Perry falling for zero and four in a rare failure. Lanning herself suffered a rare failure in the second encounter, but her team pulled through, bucking last year’s trend of folding after her dismissal.
The other Melbourne team, the Renegades, had less fortune, losing both games to the Hobart Hurricanes, the second in a Super Over (more on that later.) The Stars and Hurricanes now sit on top of the ladder, with four wins out of three.
The two Indians in the fray did not have a great weekend though. Harmanpreet Kaur’s Sydney Thunder lost two games – the first to the rain – and the second to the Adelaide Strikers. Harmanpreet was bowled for a duck by a leg cutter that turned past her outside edge to clip her off stump. Thunder, the defending champions, suddenly find themselves on the bottom of the table, and will need to regroup quickly. Fortunately, they have a week’s time before their next game.
The Brisbane Heat suffered a one sided loss to the Perth Scorchers on Saturday, but the good news for them was that Smriti Mandhana top scored, only with 21 though. Top order runs were a worry for the Heat, with Australian international Beth Mooney too short of runs. So it must have been heartening to see Mandhana in good nick – she timed the ball well in her brief stay – and then Mooney too came good in the return fixture on Sunday. Mooney starred with four stumpings and 67 not out, to maintain the Heat’s win loss balance. Mandhana missed out in the second fixture though, and will be keen to get some runs under her belt as the tournament progresses.
The format continues to challenging perceptions about the women’s game: already, 42 sixes have been hit so far in the competition. Pitches like roads, boundaries brought in as far as the rules allow, and a tweak in the fielding restrictions have helped; all unabashedly deliberate efforts to increase the average scores in the tournament. (This edition of the WBBL allows only four fielders on the boundary after the first six overs, as opposed to five in international T20s.)
They needn’t have bothered with the boundaries though, as many players continue to clear not just the ropes, but the ground. Foremost among these are New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, tied for first place for most sixes with Harmanpreet (five sixes each.) Devine has also scored more than forty runs in each of her three inning’s so far, and is on top of the run-getter charts, despite getting a game less than everyone else in the top ten.
“To be able to capture those highlights and run them through the news and social media is really important,” Anthony Everard, head of Big Bash had said before the WBBL began. The decision to livestream every game on Facebook and the Cricket Australia website has paid off, as a humdinger of a game between the Renegades and Hurricanes, on the outskirts of Melbourne, got more than 60 thousand views on Facebook. It was the match of the tournament so far.
The Melbourne Renegades lost the first game to the Hobart Hurricanes on Saturday, but looked completely in control in the second. First they restricted the Hurricanes to a gettable 121, despite New Zealander Amy Satterthwaite’s 52 not out off 42 balls . The Melbourne team looked poised to overcome the target, with two batters set at 104 for two after seventeen overs. Both got out in the 18th over though, and a run out followed. Another run out – off the last ball as the batters needed two to win but only got one – meant the match was tied.
The Renegades did not lose a wicket in the Super Over, and mustered a respectable 12 runs. Just like the rest of the game, the Hurricanes looked done and out, as they lost their talisman Sattherthwaite on the first ball of their reply, caught brilliantly at deep cover. Needing eight off the last three balls, Erin Burns ramp scooped a four to fine, then took two. With two needed off the final ball, she slogged to mid wicket for four, to give the Hurricanes a Lazarus-like win.
The next round of games will commence on Boxing Day, with the men’s BBL competition commencing on Tuesday.
Catch all the highlights on the WBBL Facebook page.
The writer is a former international cricketer and now a freelance journalist, she tweets at @SnehalPradhan.
Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2016 12:45:01 IST