Smriti Mandhana on Wednesday became the first Indian to hit a century in the Women's Big Bash League with a record-equaling 114 not out. But her splendid effort went in vain as her side Sydney Thunders lost the match.
Ironically, Mandhana could not pull off a winning six in the last ball off India T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur, as Melbourne Renegades won the match by four runs to send Sydney Thunder out of reckoning of the final. Mandhana, who faced 64 balls, punished the bowlers with 14 fours and three sixes, equalling Australian batter Ashleigh Gardner's highest individual score in WBBL history.The left-hander took the Thunder within one six of pulling off a remarkable victory against the Renegades, but she was unable to hit the maximum required from Harmanpreet's final delivery as her team finished on 171/2.
The defending champions needed an upset win to keep their slim finals hopes alive, and they had a less-than ideal start with Sammy-Jo Johnson (12) and Phoebe Litchfield (1) dismissed inside the powerplay. Finding a stable partner in Tahlia Wilson (38 not out from 39 balls), Mandhana posted her third fifty of the season from 33 balls. But the asking rate was climbing with 63 runs needed from the last five overs.
With Renegades skipper Sophie Molineux conceding just nine runs from the 19th over and Mandhana was left to face the off-spin of her national skipper Harmanpreet.Mandhana, who was the beneficiary of two fielding errors, ultimately failed to hit the last-ball six required to complete what would have been a famous victory.
Earlier, Harmanpreet became the top scorer for the Renegades, who were asked to bat first, with a 55-ball 81 not out with the help of 11 fours and two sixes. She shared a 91-run stand for the third wicket with English batter Eve Jones (42 off 33 balls). Another Indian, opener Jemimah Rodrigues was out for 2 in the first over.
The Renegades reclaimed top spot with the win and remain in the box seat, advancing directly into the finals.
With PTI Inputs