The WBBL got off to an excellent start with an act of individual brilliance that showed why a change in the tournament was long overdue.
The seventh edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) is off to a spectacular start after an impressive piece of individual brilliance by one of the tournament’s new imports.
The Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars met in the WBBL opener in Hobart on Thursday night.
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Heavy rains at Blundstone delayed the start before the weather finally subsided, and both teams allowed to hit 11 overs apiece in a shortened game.
The Stars got a full flight thanks to the powerful hitting of veteran Elise Vilani until a sensational play broke their initial partnership.
Annabel Sutherland slapped a Sixers captain Ellyse Perry goalie straight at Shafali Verma.
The ball bounced perfectly for the Indian star, who with only one stump to aim for, unleashed a one-shot rocket that hit the stumps completely and sent the bails flying and Sutherland on his way back to the pavilion.
Perry immediately congratulated Verma’s incredible hitting career, who congratulated her on a show rarely seen in cricket.
Last week, Verma and Perry had met in the multi-format series between Australia and India.
But it is the first time in WBBL history that Indian players have participated in the tournament due to previous scheduling clashes and BCCI’s reluctance to have the best Indian players compete in Australia’s national competition.
Incredibly, fielding is not a particular strength for Verma, who is best known for his explosive hitting at the top of the order from India.
Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player, male or female, to represent India in all three formats.
Cricket experts and fans were stunned by Verma’s athletic career, but equally delighted to see her play in the WBBL alongside members of the Australian team.
“I’m sure all the Indian fans are thinking, ‘Why haven’t you done this with the Indian colors for us?'” Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar said in a comment.
“First chance at magenta and (she) hits a run and the Sydney Sixers can pick up their first wicket because of a really good fielding.”
The Stars scored 99 of their 11 overs, in large part thanks to Vilani’s 54th knockout, who has not lost his stellar form the past two tournaments.
Chasing 100 to win, Verma was joined by Australian superstar Alyssa Healy at the top of the Sixers’ standings.
But the Indian could not repeat her heroics with the bat, and Sutherland knocked her down cleanly, who demanded revenge.
Healy was in excellent touch for the Sixers, hitting 57 27-ball runs to make the race chase manageable for the magenta team, who reached the required goal with four balls to spare to get their WBBL campaign off to the perfect start.