It was a Saturday night to remember for long for New Zealand captain Sophie Devine and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Womens Premier League (WPL).
In the side’s incredible chase of 189 against Gujarat Giants at the Brabourne Stadium, Sophie left everyone enthralled through her electrifying 36-ball 99, laced with eight sixes and nine fours, which also became the highest score of the inaugural edition of WPL, though she missed out on a century by just one run.
Even after Sophie got out on 99, the crowd was on their feet, much like the entire RCB dugout doffing their hat to an outstanding exhibition of power-hitting they witnessed, with every corner of the stadium chanting her name loud and clear.
After the match ended, Sophie was appreciative of the love she got during the match.
“I’m so used to hearing chants for Perry and Mandhana, and was feeling a bit left out. To hear your name and experience this atmosphere, it will stay with me for a very long time,” she said to broadcasters Sports18 and JioCinema.
For the record, this was the third time Sophie scored a 99 in a T20 match. Twice she has remained unbeaten on 99. In 2010, playing for Wellington Women against Northern Districts and nine years later for Adelaide Strikers against Hobart Hurricanes.
If Sophie would have reached her century, she would have equalled her own record of the fastest century in women’s T20s — off 36 balls in the Super Smash 2020-21.
In the process, Sophie also became the leading run-scorer of the competition, going past Delhi Capitals skipper Meg Lanning. Her power hitting was remarkable, as she collected 84 runs through boundaries.
But the standout moment of her knock came in the ninth over off Tanuja Kanwar, Sophie deposited the ball into the second tier of the stadium via a 94-metre long hoick. The right-handed batter said that was her favourite shot of the match.
“I think the one I got up there (into the second tier) I was pretty happy with. 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,” the New Zealand cricketer said.
Captain Smriti Mandhana couldn’t stop raving about Sophie’s daredevilry.
“My job was just to get a single and get Sophie on strike. A few of the sixes were really massive,” Mandhana said after the end of the game.
Her team-mate, Australia’s premier all-rounder Ellyse Perry, was also in praise of blitzkrieg from Sophie’s bat.
“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. To be fair, that last shot where she got out typifies Sophie. It’s not about runs for her but playing for the team,” said Perry.